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Tekka melons are round to oval in shape. They are light to dark green and have a smooth and firm skin. They are very crunchy and offer a refreshing taste similar to that of Japanese cucumbers with a hint of melon flavor. When small, the Tekka melon can be the size of a peanut shell, and when large up to the size of a kiwifruit.
Tekka melons are available in the late winter and spring months.
The Tekka melon, also known as the Ko melon and the Sho melon, is a member of Cucurbitaceae family. Actually a young muskmelon the Tekka melon is harvested when thinning out muskmelon fruits in order to grow larger melons.
Tekka melons contain some potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Tekka melons are most often used in pickles, such as nuka zuke (pickled in rice-bran paste), shoyuzuke (pickled in soy sauce), kasu zuke (pickled in the lees of sake), ichiya zuke (overnight pickles) and sato zuke (candied Tekka melons). They can also be added to vinegar based dishes, salads, curry, meat dishes, soups and miso paste stir-fries. Because of their simple taste, they pair well with strong flavors such as garlic, chili peppers and ginger. For storing, refrigerate Tekka melons in a plastic bag for three to five days. Once it is cut, cover it with a plastic wrap and keep it refrigerated.
Although Tekka melons are a fruit, they can be found in the vegetable section of grocery stores in Japan. Pickled Tekka melons are often eaten during winter months when there are not many vegetables available at stores.
Tekka melons are harvested in Yamagata prefecture and Shizuoka prefecture. The cranshaw and oriental melon came to Japan from China before the Jomon period; sweet melon fruits arrived to Japan in the Meiji period. Tekka melons are rare in the marketplace because thinning out seedlings of muskmelons does not happen often.