Friday, 11 June 2010

Article 42 : MELON.

By S. Olanrewaju Disu .

The melon is an important agricultural product not only in Lagos Area, but also across the border, stretching to West African markets. The melon, which is locally called “egusi”, is botanically known as “Citrullus lanatus, Family cucurbitaceae”, i.e., a plant of the gourd family.

The gourd, from which melon seeds are extracted, is locally called “bara”. It is widely cultivated in Yoruba-speaking south-west part of Nigeria. The processing of the melon-gourd before it finally arrives at the market as melon seeds is laborious. The ripe melon-gourd { the “bara”} is cut up and the fruits are stacked in heaps or buried during the rains and the seed later recovered after the flesh has rotten off. The seeds are then generally sun-dried for marketing.

The uses of melon seeds are diverse. Culturally, the Yoruba’s invoke the melon fruit as an incantation for the good delivery of a pregnant woman. Nutritionally, melon seeds are mainly roasted and made into a pulp which is added to soup or made into a sauce or a porridge; the oil may be extracted for use in cooking.

A special ethnic food and flavor, called “ogiri”, is made from the fermented kernels. Another local delicacy, called “igbalo”, is made from melon seeds that are roasted, pounded, wrapped in a leaf and then boiled.

As mentioned earlier, melon-seeds contain oil, and these oil have several uses: soap-making, medicinal uses, etc. Oil from the best seeds are called “ororo-egusi”, i.e., melon-oil , and they are chiefly used in cooking. The cake left after expression of the oil is a good feed for ruminants.

(A)---- Dried melon seeds.

( B )---- Melon seeds on retail sale at the “Idimu Market”.

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