Though most of you reading this article have probably never heard of cucamelon, this is definitely a fruit which deserves more of our attention!
Also known as a Mexican sour gherkin, this cute fruit has the size of a grape and it is very similar to a watermelon, only much smaller. And, it tastes like a mixture of cucumbers and lime. It grows on a thin vine and it is surrounded by ivy-like leaves.
Despite their rather odd appearance, they are not some hybrid fruit, but a real delicacy from Central America which has been consumed since pre-Columbian times. And, it is very popular in Mexican cuisine. In addition to its great taste, cucamelon is also highly nutritious and it can actually better the overall health.
Continue reading the article to learn more about its healing potential and then useful tips about how to grow your own cucamelons at home!
What Are Its Health Benefits?
This amazing fruit is rich in minerals, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants, but it has a low calorie count. Thanks to its potent nutrients, it helps minimize the chance of stroke, cancer, and cardiovascular illness. Plus, when regularly consumed, it can avert premature aging by keeping the cells, tissues, and organs safe and rejuvenating them.
Moreover, cucamelon is rich in lycopene, a carotenoids which betters the cardiac function and beta-carotene which is a powerful anti-aging and antioxidant agent.
So, what are you waiting for? Pull up your sleeves and plant your own cucamelons in your garden! Not sure how to start? No worries- check out our step-by-step guide below to planting your own cucamelon!
Grow Your Own Cucamelons at Home
Unfortunately, the chances for finding cucamelon at local grocery stores or at the farmers market is pretty scarce; hence, it is good to know that you can grow them in your garden. It is easy to grow because it suffers from only several pests and plus, it does not require pruning or coverage.
Moreover, they are resistant to drought even more than cucumbers are. And, similarly to cucumbers, they can be grown pretty much anywhere.
The first step is to purchase seeds- the best way to do this is to online, for example, on Amazon. Opt for high-quality seeds only that are organic and free of chemicals.
You can save up your own cucamelon seeds when the plant has grown fully. Just pick up a ripe fruit that has fallen on the ground and place it in a cool area. In two weeks or so, slice the cucamelon open and remove the seeds. Put them in a jar with water and leave them for a week. Then, rinse them and dry them on a paper towel. Keep them dry in a paper envelope.
The second step is to take into consideration the climate where you live. They are grown like annual veggies in most areas and need a long growing season with at least 65 to 75 days of warm weather free of frost and soil temperature between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. In case you live in colder areas, plant them in pots and keep them indoors in a warm and bright area when the temperature at night drops below 50 degrees.
The third step is to know that the best way to start with the growing indoors in April or May. Then, transplant them outside after the risk of frost has passed. Take into account that cucamelons are slow starters and need more time to germinate. So, it may take up to four weeks to see green shoots.
Know that cucamelons want full sun exposure and rich soil. Place them in a southern area and make sure they get at least 6 hours of direct sun per day for optimal growth.
Cucamelons are vining plants and they can reach up to 10 feet so you will need to provide the adequate support. You can install a trellis or a tomato cage to grow on.
The soil for the cucamelons needs to be mixed with compost or aged manure to provide the needed nutrition during the entire season. Before planting, amend lean or porous soil with compost and fertilizer.
When the plant is established, they need no additional nourishment, only a 4-inch compost every month. Start around two months after planting.
Water the cucamelons with an inch of water every 5 to 7 days in summer. When the weather is too hot and dry, elevate the watering to twice per week. In areas with cooler weather, monitor the soil during prolonged periods of lack of sun. Pour water only when the soil is dry on the top.
Begin with the harvesting when the cucamelons reach the size of a grape and are firm and nice, around one to one and a half inch in length. Pick them carefully with the fingers or use small scissors.
How to Use Cucamelons?
In addition to eating them raw, you can also implement them in salsas, salads, mixed with dried herbs or added in stir-fries. You can also pickle them like cucumbers.