Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cucamelon in a Minnesota Garden

This years new plant to try was the Cucamelon. This melon was found in Mexico and Central America and was an annual crop long before Europe found this part of the world. The Cucamelon has many names it is known by; Mouse Melon, Mexican sour gherkin to name a few.

My garden is in zone 3a NW Minnesota, so I need to make sure that all changes of a freeze was gone, which in Minnesota does exist really. So, I waited for the first of June to start this melon from the south. It was very slow to germinate, so slow I almost gave up on it. We have a warm summer but melon was slow to climb up and start producing. Up to this point I have picked a few here and there to try fresh, a few more to add to a spinach, purslane and red lettuce salad, but never enough to more than that. They taste, to me, like a mild cucumber, but no noticeable hit of seed or bitter rind.

Today, 1 Aug 13, I was able to gather enough to try pickling them. I am using a bottle half filled with Dill
pickling juice and spices. I know that's not traditional, but why waste the Dill vinegar water? So, after
washing the melons and picking off the spent blossom into the picking juice then went. I will try one or two of the melons in a week or so and report back. I must say, if the pickled melons aren't fantastic, I will not grow this plant again, its to slow and cucumbers taste better fresh.

In the meantime while you are waiting for my above mentioned report, check this article from Mother Earth News.

Update: Aug 24, 2013, An update on the Cucamelons! A central America plant that looks like a miniature Watermelon, that taste like a cucumber with a hint of lime.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, this plant is slow to start and a slow grower up here in the NW of Minnesota. However, come the end of August, they are now growing and producing well. A few weeks back I pack a fair amount it to a pickle jar that was full of dill pickle juice. A taste yesterday was just OK! I have since, yesterday, packed them in a salt water brine to try the fermented method;

To this point I have enjoyed this plant more for its novelty than its production or flavor. I might not grow this plant again next year. I will wait for the final taste test for the fermented pickling. Stay turned and I report back in a few weeks on the final outcome.

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