Cucamelons (Melothria scabra) are known by many names, for example " Mexican sour pickle " or " sandiita ". But the nicknames of this fruit are really many more, however local dialects and Native American languages reduce its name to the same similar translation: " mouse watermelon ".
These little fruits are almost as big as grapes. Their skin looks identical to that of watermelons, and their taste is refreshing, often compared to that of cucumbers and limes. Despite their resemblance to watermelons, these fruits are definitely on the sour side of the flavor spectrum. They grow on thin, leafy vines.
And no, these strange foods are not a genetically modified hybrid. They have been consumed since pre-Columbian times and are very common in Central American diets.
Cucamelones: The New Superfood?
Cucamelons are on their way to becoming the next superfood trend due to their high amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, just like their cousins, cucumbers and watermelons. These give a load of energy and at the same time are low in calories.
Cucamelons are said to be a high source of potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber.
How to grow cucamelons in your own garden
Do you know what the best part is? Cucamelons are so easy to grow! Cucamelons require warm weather, so it is best to plant them in the spring so they germinate in time for the summer heat. You can grow them in pots to move them when the temperature starts to drop at night.
These fruits need sun, regular watering, and well-drained soil. Wherever you decide to plant them, provide a trellis nearby so that the vines can expand as they grow.
Step 1: Buy the seeds. You can find them online or purchase them
Step 2: Find the best location to plant them, either in a pot or in a sunny area of your garden.
Step 3: Plant the seeds indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost. It will take about 14 days before they germinate and you will see small green shoots appear.
You can use small, biodegradable pots with about 2-3 seeds in each. About 0.5 inch in sterile soil will suffice.
Step 4: Once you see the little buds appear, separate them into individual pots.
Step 5: After 3-5 weeks, the shoots should reach around 2 inches in height. From this point you can transfer them to your garden.
Step 6: Install a wire cage or trellis. Train the vines to use by gently wrapping them around the trellis when they are big enough.
Step 7: Make sure 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. In very hot and dry climates, water twice a week.
Step 9: Prune dry and dying leaves.
Step 10: When the fruits are plump and about the size of plump grapes, it's time to harvest them. Just cut them without tearing the plant. You can use small scissors. Crops should last from July to mid-November.
Recipes with cucamelon
Once you've harvested your cucamelons, you can enjoy their unique flavor along with their many health benefits. You can eat them raw or incorporate them into some recipes.
Cucamelons are a delicious addition to leafy salads and fruit salads, and they can double as a beautiful garnish for dishes and cocktails, whether mashed, sliced, or whole. Remember, all fruit is edible, including the peel, so there is plenty of room for creativity.
Cucamelon pickles are a popular choice for recipes. This is how you can prepare yours.
You will need to:
· 2 ½ cups cucamelons
· 2 green chilies, halved and seeded
· 2 sprigs of fresh dill
· 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard seeds
· 1 tablespoon dill seeds
· 2 teaspoons crushed black peppercorns
· ¾ cup of water
· ¾ cup apple cider vinegar, or more as needed
· 1 tablespoon of coarse salt
· Place the cucamelons, chilies, dill, yellow mustard seeds, dill seeds, and peppercorns in a jar.
· Combine the water, vinegar, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until the salt has dissolved, about a minute. Remove from the heat and let it cool.
· Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucamelons so they are completely covered. If you don't have enough liquid, mix equal parts water and vinegar and add the mixture to the jar. Close the jar with the lid and let it sit for 3 to 4 days.
· Cucamelons cut in half
· 2 cipollini onions, peeled and finely chopped
· 1 bird's eye chili, thinly sliced (add another if you like it spicy)
· Small handful of basil or mint
· 1/4 cup olive oil
· 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
· 1 tablespoon of organic honey
· Juice of half a lime
· Coarse sea salt
· Fresh ground black pepper
· Toasted bread for serving
· Mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Set the mixture aside.
· Put the rest of the ingredients in a mason jar and season to taste. Cover the container with a lid and shake until emulsified.
· Add the prepared vegetables. Stir well, season if you see it necessary. Put a tablespoon on toast.
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