You are not alone if you have ever seen a winter melon at your neighborhood market and wondered what it tastes like. Winter melon is a fairly uncommon fruit that is frequently used in Asian cuisines. It resembles a cross between a watermelon and a cucumber. What flavor does winter melon have, then? The flavor and mild sweetness of winter melon are comparable to butternut squash. It has a flavor that is frequently compared to that of cucumber or the white rind of a watermelon. Continue reading to learn more about winter melon, including how it is used, what it tastes like, and more.
What Is Winter Melon?
The winter melon is a variety of squash related to melons and cucumbers. It is also known as ash gourd, wax gourd, white gourd, winter gourd, and white honeydew. The term comes from the fact that, although it is harvested in the summer and fall, it can be kept for three to four months and eaten in the dead of winter. An juvenile winter melon has fine fuzzy hair on its surface that looks like snow, which may have something to do with the fruit’s seasonal name. However, as it ages, it sheds its fuzzy exterior and replaces it with a waxy covering.
The dark green skin and elongated shape of a winter melon make it resemble a giant watermelon (some are rounder). One specimen I saw was over a foot long and 40 pounds! Unlike watermelons, however, both the flesh and the seeds are a pure white color. In Asia, it is a staple in many dishes, including soups, desserts, drinks, and pickles.
Consuming winter melon has been linked to numerous health advantages. They are low in calories and high in antioxidants, and provide a healthy supply of vitamin A and C, potassium, and fiber. With addition, they aid in digestion, decrease inflammation, and strengthen the immune system.
What Does Winter Melon Taste Like?
When buying winter melon, you will often come across two different versions: the ripe fruit or the immature, fuzzy variety that is smaller in size. Mature winter melon has a mild taste while juvenile winter melon is much sweeter and can be compared to a cantaloupe. The overall flavor corresponds to a cucumber or the white section of a watermelon.
Some people find it fairly flavorless, and it can be dull at first, but the beautiful thing about it is that it can take on robust and dynamic flavors and works well in both sweet and savory meals. When eaten raw, such as in salads, it tastes crunchy and juicy and refreshes your tongue. When cooked, it gets softer and preserves its flavor and juiciness. Any spices and flavorings applied to cooked winter melon will also have an effect on how it tastes.
What Is The Texture Of Winter Melon?
Winter melon has a solid flesh that is crunchy and water-rich, akin to a cucumber and watermelon. The wet texture becomes more noticeable when it undergoes cooking and the meat becomes soft and tender. The outer skin is waxy and you wouldn’t want to eat the rind since it is too rough to bite into. While not having any such culinary purposes, winter melon skin may be dried and crushed up to be used as a herbal supplement.
How To Pick The Best Tasting Winter Melon
The best spot to buy fresh winter melon is in the Asian section at your local supermarket. Some businesses will sell pre-sliced winter melon which, although very convenient, severely lowers its shelf life. Pre-cut slices should be kept in the refrigerator where they will last for 3-4 days. If you are buying pre-sliced winter melons, make sure you purchase ones that have a clean, firm, and whitish flesh. Keep in mind that the more yellow the flesh is, the less fresh it will be.
When buying entire winter melon, choose one that feels hefty, firm, and dense. You can determine the ripeness of the fruit by tapping on its underside. If it makes a deep, hollow sound, it is ripe and full of juice.
How To Cook With Winter Melon
When cooking with winter melon, the skin and seeds need to be removed, along with the soft flesh that retains the seeds. After chopping the tougher white flesh into cubes or slices, it can be cooked, boiled, braised, and added to stir-fries. After it is cooked, the flesh becomes softer and, due to its mild flavor, can be seasoned with powerful herbs and spices. Winter melon can be utilized in a number of recipes, from soups cooked with mushrooms and ham to desserts such as cakes. It is also used to manufacture clear candies and is a common element in fillings and pastries comparable to moon cakes. The neutral flavor of winter melon makes it a suitable accompaniment to stir-fry recipes with savory meats.
In addition to that, winter melon is also a popular ingredient for beverages such sweetened yogurt smoothies where it is blended with stronger-tasting fruit such as watermelons. To produce winter melon juice, the pureed flesh is drained and combined with some lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Many people in Southeast Asia and Taiwan also drink winter melon tea in the hot summer months to chill down!
What Does Winter Melon Milk Tea Taste Like?
Winter melon milk tea is basically a blend of milk tea and winter melon syrup. It is a popular beverage among tea drinkers in the United States as it has a cooling impact and caramel-like flavor that is just delightful. Winter melon tea is a popular beverage due to its light, fruity, and refreshing taste. Despite its name containing the word “tea” in it, there isn’t always tea in winter melon tea!
Also called winter melon punch or teh kundru in Malaysia and Indonesia, winter melon syrup is produced from the flesh of winter melon boiled with brown sugar and rock sugar. Like most milk teas, the base ingredients of this drink are tea, milk, and fruit syrup, which in this case is winter melon syrup. Its flavour will be dictated by the type of tea you use, such as jasmine or oolong.
To create the milk tea, all you have to do is add some tea leaves to boiling water and let it steep for 3-5 minutes. Once done, lay it aside to cool. Pour the tea and winter melon syrup (recipe below) into a glass with ice cubes. Add 1-2 teaspoons of milk and serve chilled. To make it more lively, you can also add tapioca pearls and convert it into a boba drink!
How To Make Winter Melon Syrup
Using just three ingredients, you can prepare a lovely winter melon syrup that can be used to make winter melon milk tea as well as other beverages!
Prep time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours 15 minutes
- 3 ½ lb winter melon (flesh only), cubed
- 9 oz brown sugar
- 18 oz rock sugar
1. Take a pot and combine the meat of the winter melon with brown sugar. Leave it for about 1 hour till you see that some liquid has developed.
2. Add the rock sugar, mix thoroughly, and place the pot on the stovetop. Turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
3. Once it reaches a boil, cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it cook for around 2 hours or until the winter melon has become fully transparent.
4. Turn off the heat and strain the mixture.
5. Congrats, your concentrated winter melon syrup is ready!
Store the syrup in a glass container and keep it in the refrigerator where it should stay fresh for up to 1 week.
When you desire to drink some winter melon tea, simply mix 1 part winter melon syrup with 3 parts chilled water (or milk, or tea) and enjoy!
We thought you might have a few more questions now that you are fully informed on winter melons and their flavor.
What is the difference between winter melon and fuzzy melon?
The younger version of a winter melon is known as fuzzy melon. It is much smaller than a mature winter melon and resembles a hairy zucchini. Although fuzzy melon is sweeter than winter melon, both absorb the flavors of other ingredients when cooked, thus they are frequently used interchangeably in dishes.
What is the best way to store winter melons?
If kept in a cold, dry environment, whole winter melons have a lengthy shelf life and can last for months. Once cut, their shelf life is drastically reduced to a few days in the fridge in an airtight bag or container. Winter melon can also be preserved by pickling.
Can you freeze winter melon?
Winter melon can be frozen without affecting its texture. Simply cut it up, place it in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag, and store it in the freezer until ready to use. If the storage conditions are ideal, this is a good approach to extend its shelf life by several months.