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Winter melon: what it is, benefits and uses in cooking

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In summer, melon is an inevitable fruit on our tables but perhaps not everyone knows that there is an all-winter variety that we can taste even in the coldest months. Let’s see what it is.

The winter melon or white melon is a variety of melon harvested in the summer and consumed during the colder months of the year. This ancient variety of melon can be recognized by a rough skin color yellow or green and sweet and juicy flesh, a feature that makes it suitable for different applications.

Probably of Asian origins and certainly already appreciated by the ancient Romans, the winter melon releases all its aroma only at the moment of cutting and, for this reason, it is commonly called Inodorus; not always easy to find on fruit stands, the winter melon is produced in particular in the southern regions, where we find real excellences. How to recognize the winter melon? Why is it also called Christmas melon? Let’s find out everything there is to know about this fruit, with some ideas for using it in the kitchen.

What is it, characteristics and varieties

The melon is a fruit belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family of which there are several varieties including the one called “winter”, so-called because despite the harvesting takes place, like other types of melon, during the summer season, it keeps very well up to colder months when it arrives on our tables. The winter melon has a striped yellow or green skin and a particularly sweet and sugary pulp: unlike its “summer cousins”. This melon releases all its scent only when it is cut and for this reason, it is also called Inodorus.

On the market, we can find different varieties of winter melon, grown in particular in the southern regions: from the Giant of Naples, characterized by a sweet pulp and a very thin skin. To the Morettino, with green skin, passing through the Cartucciaro and the Purceddu, both Presidium Slow Food.

Properties and benefits of the winter melon

Like all varieties of melon, even the winter one is mainly composed of water and is a decidedly low-calorie (just 22 kcal per 100 grams). Rich in vitamin C, vitamin A. And mineral salts among which sodium and potassium stand out, the winter melon contains thiamin, riboflavin. And niacin, while fats and proteins are practically completely absent.

A good amount of water makes this fruit particularly diuretic and detoxifying, while the vitamins guarantee an antioxidant and protective effect on the immune system. The winter melon is indicated in case of rheumatic pain and constipation, it contributes to the strengthening of sight, teeth. And bones and has a purifying effect on the liver which stimulates its activity.

How to use it in the kitchen

Like other varieties of melon, even the winter one has a white texture that can be used in the kitchen in sweet or savory preparations. Simply enjoyed at the end of a meal as a thirst-quenching and refreshing fruit, white melon also lends itself well to the production of sorbets. Or ice creams but also of tempting spoon desserts such as Bavarian cream made with fruit, cream, milk, and eggs. For a slightly unconventional dessert. You can work melon with dry biscuits and spreadable cheese and bring to the table a delicious melon tart. A no-bake dessert that will appeal to young and old.

We used to say savory recipes and not without reason: for a fresh and colorful lunch break. You can use the white melon in a balanced salad with friggitelli, spring onions, and Greek feta or. If the fruit crustacean couple teases you, in a melon salad and prawns, a dish that is striking for its delicacy and aromas. Tired of the classic ham and melon? Then you just have to try the tofu skewers with melon and cucumber salad, a vegetarian recipe of great impact with which you can amaze your guests during the Christmas holidays.

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