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The Pepino has a light-yellow to light-green skin, streaked with purple vertical striping. The flesh, when ripe is golden yellow with a narrow seed cavity. The Pepino is entirely edible: skin, flesh, pulp and seeds. The yellow interior is fine-grained and sweetly aromatic, intensifying as it ripens. Its flavor can be described as a mix of banana and pear, with a slightly bitter bite. Its size is inconsistent and can be as small as a plum or as large as a papaya. For optimum sweetness Pepino should be picked at peak of ripeness. Care must be taken when handling Pepino fruits as once ripe they are delicate and easily prone to bruising.
Pepino make sporadic appearances in the marketplace beginning in spring.
The word "Pepino" is Spanish for cucumber and appears to be universal with slight variations of spelling or added epithets, such as "Pepino Dulce" or Sweet cucumber. Other names include tree melon and melon pear. This name "Pepino" is also used in parts of South America for the cassabanana. It is the fruit of a small evergreen shrub. In fact, it is commonly mis-labeled as a melon, when it actually is classified as a berry within the Solanaceae or nightshade family, ie: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants.
The skin of the Pepino is edible but if tough and unpalatable it can easily be peeled away. Ripen at room temperature. Pair with lemons or limes, sweet basil, honey, chiles, chayote and coconut. Serve in fresh salads and sauces. Halve and serve fresh as a dessert or breakfast dish. Store ripe Pepino in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to three days.
Native to temperate Andean areas of Chile and Peru, Pepino are also cultivated in other regions of South and Central America, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Pepino is documented as being grown in California in San Diego prior to 1889 and in Santa Barbara in 1897. Pepino will do well in fertile, well drained soils and in sunny, frost free climates.
Recipes that include Pepinos. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Exquisite Corner||Pepino Melon Dal Curry|
People have spotted Pepinos using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
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