The calabash fruit is an eye-catching large green fruit that grows on the calabash tree (Crescentia cujete). The fruit is not edible raw but can be used to make juice and syrup for medical purposes or as a vase or bowl when dried. The dried gourd has also been used to make instruments
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Calabash Tree: Plant profile
The calabash tree (scientific name: Crescentia cujete) grows in parts of Africa, Central and South America, the West Indies, and extreme southern Florida. It is often grown as an ornamental; however, it is also used in traditional systems of medicine.
- The calabash tree is a small evergreen tropical tree that grows up to 25 feet tall and produces fruits up to 25 cm in diameter.
- There are simple leaves on the tree, and its bark is rough.
- It takes about 6 months for the fruit to ripen and it is large, hard, and green in color.
- Bats pollinate it, and its fruits grow from the tree’s trunk. Its seeds are flat, small, and embedded in its pulp.
Calabash Tree Vs. Calabash Vine
Lagenaria siceraria or calabash vine is often confused with Crescentia cujete or calabash tree, which has similar common names and fruit uses.
Lagenaria siceraria (aka calabash) is an annual, vining member of the squash family that is widely cultivated for its interestingly shaped fruits. Its seeds, leaves, flowers, and young stems are all edible.
While Crescentia cujete’s fruit is inedible and grows on a tree, Lagenaria siceraria’s fruit is edible and grows on a vine.
What do the flower and fruit look like?
There are five petals to the fruit’s flowers, which are fused in a funnel shape and are usually green with purple streaks. They grow from the trunk and limbs of the tree.
Fruits are round-shaped (resembling a coconut) and green in color; when mature, they turn yellowish or soft brown, with the pulp drying out entirely upon ripening, leaving almost nothing inside except seeds.
Horses are said to be capable of breaking open the hard shell with their mouths, extracting the pulpy fruit inside, and dispersing the seeds in their dung.
The tree can flower and bear fruit at any time of the year. It can be grown in well-drained soils and is salt tolerant.
Since it is not tolerant of even light frost, it should be planted in frost-free locations.
Is calabash fruit edible?
The fruits of calabash are not edible to humans. The tetracyclic triterpenoid cucurbitacin, found in the fruit, has been reported to cause stomach ulcers.
Is calabash poisonous in any way?
Miracle fruit or calabash has various therapeutic properties, but its derivative products should be consumed cautiously.
It may cause elevated acidity levels in the blood if the pH balance is altered by this fruit. If consumed regularly, it may also cause heartburn, digestion issues, and other gut-related problems.
What does calabash taste like?
Neither the raw flesh nor the small white seeds of a calabash fruit should be eaten. Those who have eaten the raw pulp have reported a slightly bitter flavor and little taste.
There is a subtle hint of pineapple and guava, but the sweetness is very low. A calabash is sourer than soursop, but some do compare the two.
What else is calabash good for?
Known as the miracle fruit, the calabash fruit has various health benefits. It is exceptionally high in vitamin C, making it a popular remedy for colds.
The calabash is also believed to treat intestinal irregularities, diarrhea, menstrual pain, and pneumonia.
If cooked, the fruit makes a nutritious juice that can be used in traditional medicine as a:
- remedy for respiratory problems, such as asthma and coughing.
- purgative, it contains hydrocyanic acid.
- syrup prepared from the pulp is used to treat chest or respiratory tract disorders, dysentery, and stomachache.
- The bark is used as a wound cleaner and also for treating hematomas and tumors.
- Once the fruit is dry, the inner pulp can be hollowed out to make utensils.
- In addition to being used as bird feeders, calabash pods can also be used as nest boxes.
How to Make Calabash Juice
To make calabash juice, the soft, white pulp of the fruit can be scooped out and boiled with water. There is no sweetness or sourness in this black-colored drink.
With an aroma similar to squash and coconut water, it has a slightly bitter taste.
How To cook calabash
- You can roast the seeds with wheat to make a refreshing coffee substitute.
- Cooked seeds can be used to make tea.
- You can cook calabash leaves in soups and casseroles.
- Sugar and water can be combined with dried powdered fruit to make a syrup that can be used in confectionery making.