Winter Melon for Summer Heat
By Vicky Chan of NourishU
Winter Melon/Wax Gourd/Tong Qwa
Winter melon is one of the most common, easy and fast growing fruit-vegetables in summer. Each plant can produce numerous large fruits on vines like watermelons up until late fall, and each melon can weigh up to 50 pounds. The reason why it is called winter melon is because it can be stored in a cool place without refrigeration and can last for months – even throughout the winter. But the best time to consume them is at harvest time. It is not just because of freshness, it is because this is when nature intended us to eat it; winter melon is for helping our body to counter summer heat and humidity. Also, people generally tend to consume a lot more cold fluid in summer and usually they are drinking much too fast for the body to process the water properly. Therefore water retention is common with people at the end of summer, especially those with slow metabolic function or people with weak kidney or digestive functions.
In Chinese medicine, winter melon is neutral and slightly cool in nature, sweet in taste and acts on our lungs, bladder, large intestine and small intestine. It helps to detoxify, clears out mucus and phlegm and promotes digestion. It is most suitable for people with kidney problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, over weight and with coronary heart disease. For people with weak and cold stomach/spleen constitution, weak with lack of yang energy or with loose stools, they should eat winter melon in moderation.
Chinese cuisine uses winter melon in soup, stew, congee and stir-fry. Making winter melon tea in the summer and especially during the hottest days is the most common home remedy people make to combat heat waves and to prevent sun stroke. The tea is highly recommended for children and outdoor workers who often stay outdoors. Making winter melon tea is very simple. Just cut melon into large cubes (with or without skin), cook with a large pot of water for about 30 minutes and add cane sugar to taste at the end. It can be served warm or cold with melon and good for keep in the fridge for up to a week. It is a very healthy summer beverage for the whole family.
Winter melon soups are most soothing and delicious. They are easy to make and can go with almost any combination of ingredients. You do not need to follow any specific recipe if it is not for specific treatment purposes. Winter melon goes well with most meat such as chicken, pork, duck or seafood such as crab meat or shrimps and vegetarian ingredients such as most beans, nuts, mushrooms and common food herbs such as lotus seeds, dried lily bulb and fox nuts, etc. You just need to cook up a soup base first and then add the melon to the cooking at the last 30 minutes. Here is one example recipe for your reference. You can also search our website for other therapeutic recipes using winter melon.
Winter Melon, Job’s Tears and Dried Mussel Soup
Cools internal heat, diuretic, lowers blood pressure, promotes yin and helps to lose weight.
INGREDIENTS (4 to 6 servings)
• Winter Melon 冬瓜 – 300gm
• Chicken breast – one piece
• Lean pork – one piece (optional)
• Job’s tears (yi yi ren) 薏以仁 – 30gm
• Dried scallop乾瑤柱 – 4
• Dried mussel 淡菜 – two spoonfuls
• Dried Shitake Mushroom 冬菇 – 6
• Dried longan fruit (long yan rou) 龍眼肉 – 8 to 10
• Ginger – 2 slices
- Wash chicken breast and pork, cut into a few pieces and put in boiling water to boil for a few minutes, remove and rinse.
- Soak dried mushroom until soft (about 30 minutes) and rinse. Soak other dried ingredients for a few minutes and rinse.
- Remove melon skin and seeds in the middle if any, wash melon and cut into large pieces and put aside.
- Put all ingredients (except melon) in a soup pot with about half pot of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer for 1.5 hours.
- Add winter melon, bring heat up to medium and let it cook for another 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary.
- Add a little salt to serve. Eat melon with soup.