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Meet A Designer Veggie: The Cucamelon

1 year, 1 month ago

4927  0
Posted on Aug 23, 2019, 4 p.m.

These cute little foodies have characteristics that are similar to watermelons and cucumbers but they are neither. The Melothria Scabra Cucamelon, or mouse melon is about the size of a grape. 

Also called Mexican sour gherkins or sandita they can have a tangy flavor similar to a cucumber that has been covered in lime juice to make a citrusy and savory fruit. They make a great choice for a quick snack to be tossed in a lunch bag or taken to a get together, and can also be added to a salad to add a crunch or pickled. 

These bite sized veggies can be expensive to purchase, but they can be grown at home easily and inexpensively by starting them inside before the last frost or directly sown in your garden when the soil is warm. After flowers appear on the vines start looking for fully ripe cucamelon, save the tender ones for eating and the firmer ones for pickling. They are so small one can probably fit about a dozen into the palm of your hand. 

There are dozens of cucumber cultivars, but these aren’t anything like them and are not even related. Watermelons also come in dozens of varieties ranging in size and colour, this one makes one wonder if it is a combination of fruit and veggie. 

The little melon plants are not GMO, they are native to Central America where they are common. They were even part of Aztec diet but have remained secret until recently, however, they are not a hybrid. 

Cucamelons have a unique nutritional profile  and have been found to have a high concentration of antioxidants, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds, and to contain “significant amounts of almost all essential amino acids and important minerals.”  The high amounts of antioxidants may be beneficial to anti-aging goals and general well being. 

These can be grown in abundance in a garden or a large pot on a patio or balcony with trellising, meaning you don’t have to pay the high prices at the grocery store. The taste is described as being tangy, citrusy, and savory. They are great in a refreshing salad, salsa, or pickling, and they can be used in many of the ways a tomato would be served. 

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