Sunday, 17 August 2014


Get an allotment and travel the World!

Chilacayota Beverage
Anyone following my blog recently will know that I have been growing Fig Leaf Gourd, also known as Sharks Fin Melon and that it seems to like the growing conditions in Scotland.  In the picture below  there are three fruit at different stages:

They seem to prefer climbing to growing on the ground, but they can get a bit carried away, as with this one which is not so much sitting on the fence as growing right through it.

Curiosity (and the acceptance of the inevitable) got the better of me and I decided to harvest this melon even though it was not mature.  

Scanning the net it seems that in Mexico the immature fruit is known as Chilacayote and in one region, south of Mexico City (Oaxacan), they are widely used to produce a cooling drink of the same name. The idea is that you boil them in sugar water for a good hour and then liquidise the pulp.

Some recipes include pineapple, some include the the seeds and stringy pulp, but I decided to go for the straight strained version with a lot less sugar to get the flavour characteristic of the fruit. The results didn't look particularly interesting, but ... it's a shame the internet is not good on flavours.

There's something akin to that watermelon quality about this drink. All we need now is for the temperature in Edinburgh to get into the high twenties to justify making another batch!

Mexico is not the only place this melon has been.  It is is popular in the Far East  where the Shark's Fin name has stuck in honour of the similarity of consistency to that controversial ingredient, and in Spain where they make a jam named after the stingy characteristic of it's flesh when cooked : Cabel d'Angel - angels hair.  Next time I will be making this preserve from the fully ripened fruit.

And just in case you think I am shirking, I cleared the former allium patch today and sowed a green manure, so it's all clear between the potatoes (another American import) and the parsnips now!


  1. You don't sound very enthusiastic about the taste: I don't think I'll be trying this one.

    1. Apologies for not bigging it up a bit more. I maybe betrayed some of my apprehension. It tastes great but would be a bit more balanced with the addition of pineapple, as in some of the recipes. A sort of genuinely exotic "Treetops".

  2. You may be waiting a while for the mid twenties - can you drink it warm?

    1. The maximum Edinburgh temperature on record is 30 C (Martyn will corroberate).

      Not sure about this hot, but a measure of gin would go very well I think. Or should that be tequila?