Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cucamelon

Cucamelons, Perhaps the World's Cutest Fruit
You're right. They're so damned cute that it's ridiculous. Grape-sized watermelons. Not exactly. These little Curcurbits taste like cucumber with a bit of watermelon rind and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. The crunchy little critters are tasty, no doubt. I first read about them perhaps in about 2005 and got to play with them for the first time in 2009 when a local grower supplied them to us for a summer. And then she moved away.

This native of Mexico and Central America, Melothria scabra, besides being known as a cucamelon also goes by several other monikers such as pepquiño, mouse melon, Mexican sour gherkin, and sandía de ratón (mouse watermelon) and sandiita (little watermelon) in Spanish. Although the cucamelon tastes like a cucumber-melon cross, it is botanically neither and won't cross with either.

Cucamelons Grow Like Mad Here
After all these years, I finally got some plants from a friend this spring and transplanted them out around an old tomato cage. As you can see, the prolific vines with deep green ivy-shaped leaves are beautiful and lend themselves to trellising. In fact, this tomato cage is too small and the vines are taking over this part of the garden. Next year, I plan to grow them up and over the railing to the stairwell leading down to the basement. That should give them lots of room to do their thing.

Tiny (4-5mm) Cinqefoil-Like Blooms
Hundreds of Tiny Fruits Hiding in Plain Sight
See the little melon dead center in the photo? Right. It takes a few minutes to become accustomed to seeing them and then you can pick them very quickly. In picking Monday and Thursday this week, I have picked somewhere over a hundred fruits from this one vine. Amazingly prolific.

I really love the crunchy little guys. Ann, not so much.

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