The winter melon, also known as winter gourd, Chinese preserving melon, white gourd or tallow gourd, is the fruit of a vine that is eaten as a vegetable. The fruit is fuzzy when young and has thick white flesh that is sweet in taste. Once the fruit matures, it loses all the hair, develops a waxy outer layer and grows up to 80 cm in length.
This melon is widely cultivated in East Asia and South Asia, though it was originally grown in Southeast Asia. It grows best in warm weather with sunlight and is commonly consumed during the winter months in countries such as China and Japan.
The winter melon is used in a variety of cuisines. In Vietnamese cuisine, it is used to make soups and stews, and is also eaten with pork ribs. Chinese cuisine features this melon in delicious stir-fries or in soups. The vegetable is made into a famous sweet candy called petha in India and Pakistan.
This melon is believed to have valuable medicinal value. Some say that it helps in regulating body heat, and helps the body rehydrate and hence, cool down faster than when consuming water. Winter melon is also known to detoxify the body, ridding one’s skin of acne and pimples.
A good rule of thumb is to look out for whole or pre-cut slices of winter melon in an Asian supermarket or the local grocery store. Look for firm, clean, white fleshy ones. Pre-cut melon slices should be used within 3-4 days if stored in the refrigerator.
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