Melon (Egusi in Yoruba), scientifically known as Colocynthis Citrullus, belongs to the family of gourds. Water melon also belongs to this family and is like a brother to Melon seed. However, while the fleshy parts of watermelon are edible and sweet, those of Melon are bitter and altogether unpalatable for human consumption. Therefore, farmers cultivate them for their seeds only.
Cultivation of Colocynthis Citrullus (Melon) Melon needs to be grown on fertile humus soil to be highly productive. It is recommended to plan Melon seed at the onset of the rainy season at the rate of two to three seeds per hole at a depth of about 2cm. The consequence of planting too deep is that a lot of the energy the crop should have spent growing would have been spent emerging from the soil alone, which could lead to stunted growth. The vines cover the ground, flowering starts at three weeks after planting, and the fruits are ready for harvest at 120-150 days.
After harvesting, the melon seeds are allowed to ferment for some time before the seeds are removed and washed. After washing, they would then be sun-dried before packing them up for storage.
Melon seeds stored with their shells in air tight containers will last for an extended period. However, the shelled ones would not last this long- only for about a month, because they are more susceptible to moisture and mould. The ground ones should be consumed immediately.
Uses of Melon Melon seed mostly consists of oil, dietary fibre, vitamins and protein.
Culinary Uses Melon seeds are the primary ingredient for making the popular Nigerian soup known as Egusi or Melon soup. This soup has different varieties and is eaten with fufu meals such as pounded Yam, Fufu or Akpu, pounded Cocoyam, etc.
Soap Making The oil extracted from the seeds are used to make soaps. The soaps made from this oil are perfect for the skin because of the vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and niacin they possess.
Inflammations Research has shown that the Egusi seeds have anti-inflammatory properties. They can be used to treat boils, pimples and inflamed swellings on the skin. The fruit and roots of the plant are mashed together and mixed with water to form a kind of paste that could be applied to the inflamed parts.
Digestion The dietary fibre present in Melon seed makes it a valuable food for easy bowel movement. Also, when cooked with vegetables, it works better and facilitates smooth bowel food circulation and aids digestion. Melon seed makes an important food for those interested in preventing gastrointestinal problems.
Appetite Vitamin B1 helps to improve appetite and due to the presence of vitamin B1 in egusi, it helps boost appetite. Melon seed is a good meal for those who are sick and are experiencing loss of appetite.
Diabetes The dietary fibre present in Egusi melon also functions as an anti-diabetic agent. It does this by reducing spikes in glucose level in the blood that trigger the production of insulin at harmful intervals. Melon seed is good for those looking to prevent diabetes or to reduce its symptoms.
Shopping Guide When shopping for melon seeds here are a few details to watch-out for, dust and dryness. You should take note of dust on the seeds, as those with dust have likely been kept under the wrong conditions for too long and must have lost their taste. You should also be sure that the seeds are dry. Seeds that are not well dried could lead to indigestion when cooked.
So where can we get melon seeds of good quality? Agricmania. Agricmania is the online platform where you can find buyers and sellers of affordable, good Melon seeds.