Posted on: June 23, 2020 at 8:09 pm

What do you get when you cross cucumbers with watermelons? Cucamelons! Although this may sound like a joke, these fruits exist and Americans are finally hearing about them. 

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Cucamelons (Melothria scabra) are known by many names like “Mexican sour gherkin” or its commonly used Spanish name “sandiita” (which means little watermelon). Its monikers don’t end there, but local dialects and Native American languages all come down to a similar translation: “mouse melon.”  

These cute little fruits are about as big as grapes. Their skin looks identical to watermelons, and their taste is refreshing, often compared to cucumbers and limes. Despite their likeness to melons, these fruits are definitely on the sour side of the flavor spectrum. They grow on thin vines covered in leaves. 

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And no, these weird foods aren’t a genetically-modified hybrid. They have been eaten since pre-Columbian times and are common in Central American diets. [1] 

Cucamelons: The New Superfood? 

Cucamelons are on their way to become the next superfood trend due to their wealth of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, just like their name inspirations, cucumbers, and melons. They pack a punch while being low in calories.  

Cucamelons are said to be a high source of potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber [2].  

Read: Grow Your Own Pineberries: The White Strawberries with an Amazing Pineapple Flavor

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How to Grow Cucamelons in Your Own Garden 

The best part? Cucamelons are easy to grow yourself! Cucamelons require warm weather, so it’s best to plant them in the spring in order for them to germinate in time for the summer heat. You can grow them in pots to bring inside when the temperature starts to drop at night. These fruits need sun, watering regularly, and well-drained soil. Wherever you decide to plant them, provide a nearby trellis for the vines to expand upon as they grow. [3] 

Step 1: Buy seeds. You can find them on Amazon

Step 2: Find the best location for planting, whether in a pot or a sunny patch in the garden. 

Step 3: Plant the seeds indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost. They will take about 14 days before they germinate and you see little green shoots appear.  You can use small biodegradable pots with about 2-3 seeds in each. About 0.5 inches in sterile soil should due.

Step 4: Once you see the small shoots appear, separate them into their own pots.

Step 5: After 3-5 weeks, the shoots should reach around 2 inches. They can be transferred to your garden.

Step 6: Install a wire cage or trellis. Train the vines to use it by gently wrapping them around the trellis when they grow long enough.  

Step 7: Ensure the soil is rich in nutrients. 

Step 8: Provide the plants with about an inch of water every 5–7 days during the summer months. During very hot and dry weather, water twice a week.  

Step 9: Prune away any dried and dying leaves. 

Step 10: When the fruits are plump and about the size of plump grapes, it’s time to harvest. Simply pluck them without ripping the plant. If desired, use a small pair of scissors. The crops should last from July to about mid-November. 

Read: Did You Know You Could Cook A Whole Chicken In Watermelon And It Would Turn Out Tastefully Awesome?

Recipes with Cucamelon 

Once you have a crop of cucamelons, you can enjoy their unique flavor along with their many health benefits. Eat them raw, or incorporate them into recipes. They are a delicious addition to leafy salads and fruit salads, and they make a beautiful garnish for dishes and cocktails, blended, sliced, or whole. Remember, the whole fruit is edible, including the peel, so there’s lots of room for creativity. 

Cucamelon pickles are a popular recipe choice for this food. Here’s how you can make your own. 

You’ll need:  

  • 2 ½ cups cucamelons 
  • 2 green chile peppers, halved and seeded 
  • 2 sprigs fresh dill 
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds 
  • 1 tablespoon dill seed 
  • 2 teaspoons crushed black peppercorns 
  • ¾ cup water 
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar, or more as needed 
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt 

Instructions 

  1. Place the cucamelons, chile peppers, dill, yellow mustard seeds, dill seed, and peppercorns in a jar. 
  1. Combine water, vinegar, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until salt has dissolved, about one minute. Remove from heat and let cool 
  1. Pour vinegar mixture over cucamelons so they are completely covered. If you don’t have enough liquid, mix equal parts water and vinegar and add to the jar. Close jar with the lid and let stand 3 to 4 days. 

Recipe by nch 

Speaking of treating cucamelons as cucumbers, try this delicious bruschetta recipe for a refreshing and tasty appetizer. 

Cucamelon Bruschetta 

Ingredients 

  • 1-pint cucamelons, cut in half 
  • 2 cipollini onions, peeled & finely diced 
  • 1 bird’s eye chili, finely sliced (add another if you like it really spicy) 
  • Small handful of basil or mint 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp organic honey 
  • Juice of half a lime 
  • Coarse sea salt  
  • Fresh cracked black pepper 
  • Toasted bread to serve 

Instructions 

  1. Toss the first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. 
  1. Put the rest of the ingredients in a mason jar and season to taste. Cover with a lid and shake baby shake until emulsified. 
  1. Pour over prepared vegetables. Stir well, season if need be. Spoon over toasted bread. 
  1. Eat.  

Recipe by She Eats 

Keep Reading: Blue Java Banana: The Banana That Tastes ‘Just Like Vanilla Ice Cream’

[1] “Why Southerners Should Grow Cucamelons This Year.” Southern Living

[2] “Know about Cucamelon.” Health Benefits Times.  

[3] “Cucamelon Plant Profile (Mexican Sour Gherkin)” Nadia Hassani. The Spruce. February 24, 2020 

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Sarah Schafer
Founder of The Creative Palate
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender. Her blog The Creative Palate shares the nutrition and imagination of her recipes for others embarking on their journey to wellbeing.

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