Egusi watermelon comes from western Africa where it is raised for its seeds much like 'naked' squash and pumpkin seeds. Only the seeds are edible as the fruit is too bitter to consume. The protein and oil rich seeds are used in sauces and impart a peppery flavor. The seeds are best roasted. Collect in late fall, make a small incision of each side, let sit for7-14 days. When the pulp turns into a clear liquid, strain the seeds with water. Let dry for a week and roast. They can be brined or salted too. Plants grow 5-20 ft. and each node roots (up to 2 ft. deep) as the plants travel along. Makes a nice annual vine impervious to deer and insects. Roughly 75-100 days to ripen.
Do not grow other watermelon near by to avoid hybridization if you plan to save the seed for future generations. Plant 1/2 to 1 in. deep after danger of frost. Egusi has small fruits about 4-8 inches in diameter. This is the only selection available for edible watermelon seeds that is easy to grow and process. The seeds are 25-50 percent larger than regular watermelon seeds with a paper like shell much like the naked pumpkin seeds. Selected by Oikos Tree Crops using small fruited productive plants that produce lots of fruit with little pulp in very dry conditions. Selections were made over 3 years to decrease fruit size and lower the pulp ratio so there are more seeds per fruit. Only the seeds are edible. Roasting the oil rich seeds dramatically improves the flavor.
More research on oil extraction is needed as well as grow outs to measure yields as well as culinary and nutritional information.
|Genus & Species||Citrullus lanatus var. mucosopermus|
|Height (ft)||Vine can grow to 30 ft. long. Roots at nodes.|
|Pollination Requirements||Possibly needs two plants for best fruit set. Breeds true if no other watermelons are nearby.|