Ashokan before his juice stall at Kundanoor.
Ashokan before his juice stall at Kundanoor. Express.

Snap melon is the new lord of summer drinks

The rise in the summer heat in recent years has seen the popularity of the fruit rise manifold. It is now being cultivated in more areas, other than the traditional hub of Kodungallur.

KOCHI: Move away watermelon, pottu vellari or snap melon is in high demand this summer and is the most sought-after thirst-buster as the mercury continues to soar to record highs.

The rich pulp of the local is the main reason that makes the fruit a favourite choice for many, thanks to its mild yet engaging sweetness and distinctive flavour.

The wayside stalls and bakery shop owners vouch they sell like hotcakes.

“The demand for snap melons has gone up of late. Such is the demand that we run out of stock by the afternoon on most days. While customers continue to pour in, we often can offer only watermelon juice or buttermilk,” says Asokan P K, who has been running a makeshift fruit stall at Kundanoor every summer for the last 14 years. According to him, over 50 glasses of snap melon juice are sold daily besides an average 60kg of the fruit itself from his small wayside stall.

“We procure these melons in bulk quantities from Kodungallur where they are cultivated in a major way. It’s now being sold at Rs 60 per kg and the price is going up,” he adds.

The rise in the summer heat in recent years has seen the popularity of the fruit rise manifold. It is now being cultivated in more areas, other than the traditional hub of Kodungallur.

Abdul Saleem, owner of a wholesale shop located in Nettoor International Fruits and Vegetables Market, says that the fruit grows the best in humid conditions. He is procuring the fruit now from Nedumbasserry. “The fruit would decay quickly if it rains. Even the summer rains can result in loss to farmers. Thankfully, the demand has risen of late. We are able to sell over 15 tons a week,” he adds.

Maheswari sells snap melon (pottu vellari) to customers at Kundannoor Junction in Kochi on Tuesday.
Maheswari sells snap melon (pottu vellari) to customers at Kundannoor Junction in Kochi on Tuesday. Express| | A Sanesh

Small-time farmers and vegetable growers in Cherthala and Alappuzha have also started cultivating snap melons in recent years, says P S Sanumon, a farmer based in Kanjikuzhy. He recently won the agriculture department’s award for the best vegetable farmer in Alappuzha.

A lion’s share of the fruit grown is shipped to Kochi and its outer hubs like North Paravur, where juice made out of the fruit is sold in almost all juice shops.

The fruit, though, is in severe short supply as the main season of cultivation is over. “It’s mainly cultivated in February and March. The third or fourth harvest is now going on. And the supply is limited to those farmers who sowed the seeds late,” he points out.

Healthy & tasty

Meanwhile, experts cite that having pulpy summer fruit is highly beneficial to the body as it is loaded with microfibers, even more than the watermelons, and keeps the body temperature in check. “It’s an excellent thirst burster and instantly cools down the body. It’s loaded with various vitamins and minerals such as Beta-Carotene. Its high antioxidant properties may protect against cancer and raise the body’s immunity,” says Anju Elsa Baby, a dietitian at Muvattupuzha General Hospital.

Make your own ‘Pottu vellari’ juice

  •  Take a ripe snap melon and peel off the skin

  •  Remove the seeds and cut it into small pieces

  •  Add the required water and sugar

  •  You can also add cold milk or coconut milk instead of water

  •  Adding cardamom will increase the taste

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