What!! Melons in the New Year?
Updated: Jun 19, 2021
The first time I saw the fruit, I thought it was a watermelon. Though after asking around my friend group; may I introduce Chilacayote (cheel-a-ka-YO-teh).
Chilacayote is a prolific squash plant that produces huge squash 10 to 15 lbs hanging from it. You can eat the fruit small, around 4 inches in diameter, like summer squash. Or, you could cut the bigger squashes into strips, simmer them with cinnamon sticks and a syrup of piloncillo (also spices like canela, anise and cloves)! Or, make it into a sweet beverage! The flowers, prolific and fast-growing leaves and tender shoots are used in Mexico and other countries as greens.
When the fruit is young, it makes a wonderful base for a winter or early spring smoothie. Scoop out of the rind and remove the seeds, Mix the Chilacayote flesh with ice and sugar, and whatever citrus you prefer. Put the raw ingredients in a blender and enjoy!
The dark flat seeds inside the flesh are rich in healthy oils. These seeds can be dry roasted and eaten plain. Toss the seeds in some olive oil and salt, then roast them in the oven at 300F. Or, make them into palanquetas: just pour caramelized sugar over the seeds and let them cool into a brittle candy!
It is a late producer, as it didn't do any good until now. I counted today, and there are 23 chilacayote squash on the vine, and it's still setting flowers. What an amazing squash! Oh, did I mention it's a perennial squash too? You heard me right!