I love the look of these little almond-shaped fruits; they’re called pepinos. These are not intimidating, as some of the other exotic things we’ve discussed may have seemed. They are smallish, smooth, and pretty; no horns, bristles, or any other weird protrusions. Aren’t you glad?
Pepinos are relatives of the tomato and eggplant, and are grown similarly. They grow on bushy plants, and because of the weight of the fruits, the bushes are usually staked to keep them vertical. The plants can grow three to four feet in height and in tropical climates are perennial. They’re grown in many places: Ecuador, Australia, New Zealand, and even in the U.S. in California.
Pepinos taste like a blend of cantaloupe, pear, with (some say) a touch of lime. They can easily be used anywhere you’d use cantaloupe, although in appearance and structure, they certainly don’t look like one. They have a thin skin, for example, and can easily be peeled. They are similar in that they do have a center with lots of small seeds and soft, scoopable flesh.
According to Melissas.com, a produce vendor:
“A ripe Pepino Melon is characteristically striped vivid green and purple. If the creamy yellow background skin areas have a greenish tint, ripen Pepinos at room temperature, uncovered and out of direct sun. Once ripe, Pepinos are fragrant and will yield slightly to pressure. Refrigerate ripe fruit for up to 3 days.”
Use the pepino in the same way you’d use a cantaloupe. Here are a few ideas:
Pepino Melon and Tomato Salad Recipe
1/2 pepino melon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Combine pepino melon, tomatoes and mint in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Allow to sit for ten minutes or so for the flavors to intermingle. Makes about four servings.
Pepino Melon Cocktail
- 2 whole Pepino Melons
- 1 pint Strawberries, washed
- 2 tablespoons Caster Sugar
- 2 cups White Wine dry or sparkling (note: could also use ginger ale or Sprite in place of the wine.)
- 2 sprigs Mint
- 1 tablespoon Black Pepper crushed
- 1 Orange Juiced
Cut the melon into pieces and remove seeds. Halve strawberries and place into a bowl. Remove balls of melon using melon baller and place into bowl. Sprinkle over the caster sugar, chopped mint and black pepper. Pour over orange juice and wine or Sprite. Carefully stir together and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Serve in tall flutes.
Another option for easy appetizers is to wrap chunks of pepino melon with prosciutto and fasten with a toothpick. Simple, flavorful, and fresh. Fast preparation, too!