Chilacayote, botanically known as Cucurbita Ficifolia is a type of gourd which is grown for its fruit, seeds, and its leaves. It grows on climbing vines having the capability of growing up to a length of 15 meters. The vine has big green leaves( similar to those of fig plants) and a strong root system. The fruit is usually oblong in shape and looks like a spotted watermelon. Chilacayote is also used in jams and jellies.

It is vastly grown in Latin American countries but it is also famous in some countries of Europe and Asia.

Chilacayote has many popular names some of which are: fig leaf melon(because of its leaves resemblance to fig plants), Malabar gourd, shark fin melon(as it is used in shark fin soup as a substitute), seven-year melon(as it can be safely stored for a long time), black seed squash(like the color of seeds is black), siam pumpkin, etc.  

See  Winter Melon, Crenshaw Melon, and Korean Melon.

Chilacayote on the ground

Physical Appearance

The color of the skin of chilacayote may vary from dark green to light or cream color. It looks like a pumpkin or watermelon. As discussed above, the shape of the fruit is oblong, having a diameter of around 20 centimeters and 2 to 6 kilograms weight. One fruit can hold 500 seeds and one vine can produce up to 50 fruits.

The skin of chilacayote is hard and tough which increases the span of their storage. The fibrous and spongy flesh of Chilacayotes is bright white having a wet texture. The entire fruit is edible including flesh, seeds, and skin. However, the spotted rind of mature fruit can not be eaten.

The color of seeds is mostly black but some varieties have large pale-colored seeds.

Taste and Aroma

The smell of chilacayote is like that of melons, maybe because they are cousins to each other.

Talking about the taste of raw chilacayote, it’s sweet in the matured stage while the taste of cooked chilacayote is mild and neutral and it absorbs the taste of other ingredients quickly.

The immature fruit is eaten by cooking it while mature chilacayote is used raw as well as in soups, desserts, jams, and jellies. Its use is also famous in beverages.

  • Chilacayotes are rich in calcOrigin and Seasons
  • Chilacayotes are thought to be native to Latin America and Central Mexico but their exact center of origin is unknown. It was spread in the far-off areas by travelers and now it is found growing in Europe, the United States, South America, Asia, and Australia.
  • Chilacayotes are available in the spring and late winter.
  • The chilacayotes are planted in temperate regions usually at 2000 meters above sea level. They can be easily grown by seeds. They can not resist frost so they are mostly planted after frost but the older plants can overcome it. The chilacayote plants need full exposure to the sun.

●   Uses

  • Chilacayotes are used in a number of ways. Usually, they are taken as a vegetable rather than a fruit. Their flesh is eaten raw, stuffed, in beverages, jams, jellies, soups, in boiled form, and cooked in a number of ways according to the choice of person’s taste.
  • The chilacayotes candies are also very popular in some countries of South America, Asia, and Europe.
  • Their leaves are cooked as leafy green vegetables or raw in salads.
  • The seeds of chilacayotes are rich in proteins and fatty acids. They have a nutty flavor like peanuts and sunflower seeds when roasted. They are enjoyed as snacks like peanuts and are very popular with people of all ages.
  • In some areas, they were cultivated as fodder for animals.
  • In recent times the chilacayotes were taken by sailors on voyages because of their great capabilities of storage.
  • The chilacayote plants are also used for ornamental purposes.

●   Storage

  • Chilacayotes are very well known for their storage purpose. Not only the fruit but the leaves and seeds of the chilacayotes can be stored easily.
  • The seeds of chilacayotes are dried to store for a long time. The mature fruits can also be preserved for long times if stored properly.

●   Nutrition and Health Benefits

  • Chilacayotes are very beneficial for health as the other gourds. They contain antioxidants and are well known for their anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory effects. Some of the health benefits are as under:
  • so they are good for bone health. They also contain minerals that avoid the fracturing of bones and thus making them stronger.
  • Chilacayotes have metabolites called flavonoids which are anti-bacterial. These alkaloids and flavonoids eliminate the tapeworms, bacteria, and other pathogenic microbes from the intestines and thus help to cure intestinal infections.
  • Chilacayotes are antidepressants proven to be beneficial for the treatment of insomnia and depression. They relax the nerves and cause you relief.
  • This fruit is also good for liver health as it plays an affected role in detoxification.
  • As a great source of vitamin C, chilacayote is an immunity booster. It increases your immunity and thus assists in maintaining your health fit.
  • Chilacayotes have laxative effects. They are good for getting rid of constipation, as do most fruits. They provide health to the stomach.
  • The production of pancreatic cells is invigorated by chilacayotes as they contain polysaccharide sugar which aids in improving pancreatic circulation.
  • Chilacayotes are good for restoring the normal body temperature so they are suitable for relieving fevers.
  • Chilacayotes are known for maintaining your weight or for weight-loss purposes as they contain a great number of proteins and fewer carbohydrates. So it helps you overcome obesity and thus heart attack and strokes. Read More.
  • Chilacayotes are helpful in relieving bronchitis and other respiratory problems because of their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Read More.

   

Above are some benefits of chilacayotes which you can get out of chilacayotes. You can see that these beautiful-looking fruits are also very appealing because of their countless benefits to health. So you should use them and include them in your diet to get these bounties. But there are also some side effects of this fruit, chilacayotes, but surely not for all people and at all times.

 

You should not use chilacayotes if you have some sort of allergies as they can cause rashes or if you should ask a doctor to suggest the right amount of fruit which you can eat.

 

The antidiabetic properties of chilacayotes may interfere with the prescription of a doctor for diabetic conditions so in this case, you should also not eat them. Read More.

 

There are also some reports of the toxic effects of chilacayote seeds so you should remove them before eating the fruit.

 

There are no significant reports of side effects of chilacayote to pregnant women but as prevention is better than cure, you should avoid them to keep yourself from the negative effects of the fruit.

But there is nothing to fear from these beautiful fruits as all things have good and bad, Both effects and the goodness depend on the proper use so you should maintain balance and use them properly.

Other Types Of Squash

  1. Types Of Pumpkins
  2. Types Of Watermelons
  3. Golden Honeydew
  4. Cerasee
  5. Long Squash
  6. Black Chayote
  7. Susumba

 

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