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What is a Pepino Melon?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A pepino melon is a type of fruit native to Peru; although it tastes and looks like a melon, it is not a true melon, as it grows on an evergreen shrub, rather than vine. Today, this fruit is grown in subtropical climates in other regions of the world, especially California and New Zealand, and as a result, they are readily available in many areas while they are in season. For people who live in subtropical zones, these melons can be grown from cuttings; this plant is technically a perennial, although harsh weather can damage the plant.

These fruits are also sometimes known as melon pears, tree melons, bush melons, and mellowfruits, referencing the parent bush. They have a distinctive teardrop shape and a yellow rind which is streaked with green and purple when ripe. The taste of a pepino melon tends to be very sweet and juicy, with a faintly floral aroma; many people compare them to cantaloupes and honeydews, two well-known melon varieties.

Pepino melons come into season in the late fall to mid-spring, and, as with true melons, a number of things can be used to tell if a pepinon is ripe and juicy. The melon should feel heavy for its size, and sound hollow when tapped, and ideally the melon should be richly streaked with color. Do not be concerned by areas of roughness or streaks of liquid on the pepino melon; these indicate that the fruit will be especially sweet.

These fruits can be used in a variety of ways. Many people enjoy eating pepino melon out of hand, either in slices or straight out of the rind with the assistance of a spoon. The fruit can also be mixed with fruit salad and other dishes, blended into smoothies, or used in iced desserts. The sweet flavor also pairs well with lime juice, and adventurous cooks can try wrapping pepino in prosciutto for a twist on the classic melon and prosciutto.

This tropical fruit only keeps a few days off the plant, so it should be used as quickly as possible once it has been purchased. Keep pepino melon under refrigeration until it is used; if you slice the fruit and plan to finish it later, drizzle citrus juice over the slices and store them, covered, under refrigeration for two to three days.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon338001 — On Jun 09, 2013

I planted some pepino el camino "blush" in my home garden in Nelson, NZ. The plant has proved exceptionally easy to grow and has suckered off to cover an area of about 3sqm in one season. It has produced many fruits that are about 500gm when ripe and although I'm not the biggest fan of the fruit, I've enjoyed them (particularly with ice cream). The plants have suffered with the onset of winter as I did not provide frost protection but due to the excessive foliage the frost nip does not seem to have devastated the plants yet.

Give growing them a try. --Brendon

By turquoise — On May 08, 2011

Pepino melon is said to be an ideal fruit for diabetics. It has a lot of fiber and low sugar. Some people even call it miraculous because it has magnesium, vitamin A and K. In countries where it is a popular fruit, women use the skin of the fruit as a skin treatment. They think it has anti-aging properties. And diabetics say that it lowers their blood sugar.

I don't know if there is research to back any of this but since so many people have mentioned its health benefits, I think it must really be good.

By burcidi — On May 07, 2011

In Spanish, it is called "pepino dulce." It means sweet cucumber. Pepino means just "cucumber." I think it should be referred by its full name, pepino dulce, because otherwise, you would be calling the fruit cucumber.

I also don't know why it was called sweet cucumber. It's not from the cucumber family, it's from the eggplant family.

By SteamLouis — On May 06, 2011

I buy pepinos before they are completely ripe and keep them out of the fridge at home. I like to have them this way because it is not very sweet then. The color is between the unripe greenish tone and very ripe yellow.

It smells amazing, sort of like a melon like the article says. I wish pepinos were more easily found though. The only ones in the US come from South American and I think some is grown in California also.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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