Winter Melon is the sole member of the Benincasa genus. It is known by different common names like ash gourd, winter gourd and white gourd. Due to the fuzzy appearance inside, they have also been termed as fuzzy gourd. This fruit is consumed worldwide and known by regional names in Hindi, Tamil, Chinese etc. It has great viability as fruit and vegetable as the entire plant can be consumed. China is one of the top consumers of this melon, especially during celebrations.
Glance over the physical traits of the fruit as given below.
Size : These melons grow as big as 80 cm in length.
Weight : Fruits can weigh around 30 pounds.
Color : These pistachio colored melons have a dusty appearance.
Taste : They are sweet when immature but in ripened state it loses its sweetness acquiring a rather bland taste, like that of the cucumber.
Flavor : It has a mild aroma, which is not very prominent.
Texture : On maturity it receives a waxy skin, in place of the hairy form.
Also known as white melons, they are native to Southeast Asia. After being introduced to Europe, they are now grown in USA and Australia as well.
Basic growing condition required for it is a warm weather. Seeds can be sowed in the month of May. It grows best in full sun. It spreads very rapidly across a large area climbing up the vines. While cultivating them, never keep the soil soggy as it restricts the growth of the plant. Some varieties of Winter Melons are Casaba, Cavallion, Crenshaws, Ein d’OR and Honeydew Melon.
Several benefits of consuming this fruit-vegetable are:
- By drinking wax gourd juice on empty stomach in the mornings peptic ulcers can be cured.
- For preventing blood loss from nose or as a result of piles, a mixture of Indian gooseberry and fresh juice of winter melon can help.
- The pulp can be boiled and then mixed with sugar into a sticky product by warming it. This is an excellent means of gaining weight after suffering from diseases like tuberculosis or diabetes.
- It is an effective diuretic, which helps in eliminating toxins by causing frequent urination.
- It has been regarded as a vegetable or fruit which provids quick energy as revealed by ancient yogic science.
- It has natural cooling properties which can be checked during the winters by adding a hint of honey to it.
Nutritional value attained from a cup of cooked Winter melon is presented below:
|Nutrition Facts||per 1 cup|
|Saturated Fat||0.028 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0.153 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0.064 g|
These melons have diverse edible, medicinal and other uses.
- They are made into candies that are savored during New Year festivities.
- Chinese mooncakes eaten on Moon Festival also uses them as fillings.
- It is an important ingredient for making ‘Petha’ highly popular in Pakistan and the northern parts of India.
- Indian cuisine uses it for preparing spicy curries.
- Winter melon tea, another Asian drink is also made from this fruit.
- Not only the melons, leaves and shoots of this plant are also nutritious and hence consumed as green vegetables.
- It can be blended into smoothie with lime and salt.
- Winter melons are used in Ayurvedic treatments for regaining appetite.
- Juice of this fruit/vegetable is also accepted as a remedy for kidney stones.
- For improving sperm count and its movement, often the seeds of this vegetable is cooked with milk and consumed.
- An effective remedy for tapeworms and intestinal infections can be offered by the winter melon’s seeds. It can be blended in coconut milk and consumed as a remedy
For promoting new hair growth thereby cleaning the scalp off dandruff, the oil made by boiling coconut oil and the skin/seeds of this melon together, can be applied.
For treating chapped lips, a powder made by grinding the seeds of this fruit vegetable can be applied.
There are no possible side effects of this vegetable.
Chinese Winter Melon Soup, known popularly by the names of dong gwa jong and tung qua chung is a very popular recipe which uses either pork or beef to churn out this dish. Apart from that a stew can also be made out of it with soy sauce, ginger, onion, garlic and wet cornstarch. If you have a string craving for sweets, you can try making a dessert of small winter melons, rock sugar and water.
It is believed that winter melon jam is good for pregnant women as it endows the child with good looks. However, it is also suggested to avoid cooling food like winter melon during the initial months of pregnancy. There might be cons associated with its consumption during pregnancy for which medical help can be sought.
Best part about these vegetables is that they can be stored for about 5 to 6 months and can be eaten during the winter months, like they do it in China. Dried melons can be kept in sealed bags in the refrigerator.
Green vegetables are indispensible for the growth and development of an individual. Winter melons are such vegetables that are natural sources of minerals and some amount of Vitamin C which helps the body survive and stay fit. You can cook these melons in a number of ways, depending on the region inhabited. They can be easily blended into health drinks, soups and sweet dishes which can be savored not only on specific occasions but also on regular basis.
Some of the images to identify Winter Melon have been listed here.
- by Sean Northampton
- 9th November 2016
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