Edible Parts: Fruit; Leaves; Seed.
Edible Uses: Oil; Pectin.
Fruit - raw. A very refreshing fruit, it has a delicate sweetness with an extremely high water content, the fruit is often used as a refreshing drink. The unripe fruits are added to soups. A syrup can also be made from the juice. The fruit is a rich source of pectin, and can be added to pectin-low fruits when making jam. Pectin is said to protect the body against radiation. The fruit varies considerably in size from cultivar to cultivar, but can be up to 1 metre long and 40cm wide. A nutritional analysis is available. Leaves - cooked. Seed - raw or cooked. They can be roasted or ground into a powder and used with cereal flours when making bread, cakes etc, or added to soups and stews. The seed contains about 30% protein, 20 - 40% oil. An edible oil is obtained from the seed.
Cardiac; Demulcent; Diuretic; Enuresis; Febrifuge; Pectoral; Purgative; Tonic; Vermifuge.
The seed is demulcent, diuretic, pectoral and tonic. It is sometimes used in the treatment of the urinary passages and has been used to treat bed wetting. The seed is also a good vermifuge and has a hypotensive action. A fatty oil in the seed, as well as aqueous or alcoholic extracts, paralyze tapeworms and roundworms. The fruit, eaten when fully ripe or even when almost putrid, is used as a febrifuge. The fruit is also diuretic, being effective in the treatment of dropsy and renal stones. The fruit contains the substance lycopine (which is also found in the skins of tomatoes). This substance has been shown to protect the body from heart attacks and, in the case of the tomato at least, is more effective when it is cooked. The rind of the fruit is prescribed in cases of alcoholic poisoning and diabetes. The root is purgative and in large dose is said to be a certain emetic.
The seed contains 20 - 40% oil. As well as being edible, it is also used for making soap and for lighting. Face masks made from the fruit are used as a cosmetic on delicate skins.
Prefers a rich sandy loam and a very sunny position. A drought resistant plant once established, it is intolerant of wet soils. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.3 to 8. It is not frost hardy and requires a long hot summer if it is to fruit well. A good companion plant for potatoes.
Seed - sow spring in a rich compost in a greenhouse. Either put 2-3 seeds in each pot and thin to the best plant, or prick out the seedlings into individual pots of rich soil as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on fast and, if trying them outside, plant out after the last expected frosts. Give them some protection, such as a cloche or a frame, at least until they are growing away vigorously.