Sponge Gourd (Nenwa)
Sponge gourd (Nenwa) is a tropical fruit from the cucumber family and, like its well-known brother, has a cylindrical, elongated shape. This young, soft fruit is eaten unripe and has a slightly sweet taste, a cross between the taste of a cucumber and a zucchini. Sponge gourd has a firm skin and is spongy inside. The sponge gourd is also called Nenwa or Loofah. Fun fact: if you let this fruit ripen, the inside becomes dry, hard in shape and the color changes from green to brown. By soaking it in water for a few days, the seeds and pulp can be removed, leaving a reticulated skeleton of vascular bundles. Due to the stiff fibers, the dried Sponge Gourd is often used as a natural (scrub) sponge.
Sponge Gourd has been growing in warm and humid conditions for centuries. The fruit is grown worldwide in the tropics. The plant has long stems with serrated leaves. First large, yellow flowers appear, from which the green fruits grow.
How to store
You can keep nenwa in the fridge for several days.
How to eat
The young fruit is eaten unripe, because when it is ripe the taste becomes bitter and tough. Nenwa can be eaten out of hand just like a cucumber or pickle, but you can also cut nenwa into slices or cubes and briefly cook or stir-fry. Don’t forget to first remove the peel with a vegetable peeler.