What's the Deal With: Pepino Melons

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Pepino melons are not really melons; they are the fruit of a South American evergreen and actually related to the tomato and the eggplant. Sometimes they are called tree melons, or melon pears. They have been cropping up in the grocery store lately and we were intrigued by the beautiful stripes and teardrop shape.

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The melon is about the size of a hand, almond-shaped and firm. It will usually have beautiful purple streaks on a yellow skin. As it ripens it gives off a deep, sweet smell - rather like a cantaloupe.

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The fruit is easily cut in half; the skin is thin and there is no central pit - just a small cluster of edible seeds surrounded by pale orange fruit.

To be honest, we weren't crazy about the taste of the pepino melon. It has a soft, mealy texture that is watery like a cucumber, and a pale, almost vegetable taste. The flavor is like a very faint cantaloupe or honeydew. We may have let it over-ripen, too.

We did read that the fruit is best poached in honey or sugar to cut down on its acidity. It also is a fruit that is often enjoyed in Japan, where its understated flavor is often used in subtle ways.

(Image credit: All images Faith Hopler for Apartment Therapy)

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.