Get an allotment and travel the World!
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.
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!