James Wong's - Homegrown Revolution

CUCAMELONS: GRAPE-SIZED CUKES

Posted on: December 2nd, 2012 by James Wong 73 Comments

Doll’s house-sized ‘watermelons’ that taste of pure cucumber with a tinge of lime. These little guys are officially the cutest food known to man & oh-so-easy to grow even for real beginners. Let me show you how to get started…

HOW TO GROW CUCAMELONS:

Cucamelons can be grown in pretty much the exact same way as regular cucumbers, only they are far easier. They don’t need the cover of a greenhouse, fancy pruning or training techniques and suffer from very few pests. Sow the seed from April to May indoors and plant out when all risk of frost is over. Give them a support the scramble over, keep well watered and that’s pretty much all you will need to do!

Harvest them when they are the size of a grape, but still nice and firm.

They make pretty, high-yielding vines that can be planted really close together to get the most out of a small space – as little as 15cm between plants around a trellis.

My harvest from just 4 plants!

FINDING CUCAMELON SEEDS:

Want to know where you can get your hands a little plant?

I have teamed up with the lovely plant geeks at Suttons Seeds to sell Cucamelon Seeds as part a brand new ‘Homegrown Revolution’ range of weird and wonderful edibles. Why now check ‘em out?

HOW TO EAT CUCAMELONS:

The fruit can be eaten straight off the plant, or tossed with olives, slivers of pepper and a dousing of olive oil. Perfect for a quirky snack with drinks – or even popped like an olive in a cheeky martini.

PICKLED CUCAMELONS WITH MINT & DILL

To preserve their virtues right in to the depth of winter, you can even make cucamelon dill pickles. Fantastic in a simple ham sandwich or with a fancy cheeseboard.

 

They can be pickled whole, however slicing these little fruit in half and pre-salting them will result in far more crisp result – not to mention that fact that they will be ready in half the time.

Pre-salting simply involves sprinkling the sliced fruit with a really generous amount of sea salt in a colander (about 1 tbsp per cup of cucamelons) and setting them over a bowl for 20 minutes or so. This will draw out the excess water from the fruit, which prevents the fruit from diluting the vinegar during the pickling process.

After the 20 minutes are up give them a good rinse, pat dry with some paper towels and you are ready to go!

You can flavour the pickling vinegar with anything you fancy. My favourite mix combines dill, mint, pickling spice and a sprinkling of pink peppercorns. Add a generous sprinkling of sugar and salt and stir the mix to combine.

Adding an (optional) scrunched up vine or oak leaf will further help ensure a crisp result, as the tannins in the leaves will inhibit natural enzymes within the fruit that can cause softness.

Top up with a good quality vinegar to cover the fruit, seal the jar and give it a good shake.

Pop it in the fridge and they will be ready in a just a week!

For full instructions on how to grow, cook and eat Cucamelons check out pg 101 of my new book Homegrown Revolution!

Tags:

73 Responses

  1. Rhizowen says:

    Hi James

    My Melothria plants frequently produce quite large roots by the end of the season, but I can’t find any references to their edibility. Have you tried them?

    • James Wong says:

      You’ve noticed that too? I have looked everywhere and can’t find any info on whether the roots are edible as well sadly. Presumably though if they were, they would surely also be eaten by the same communities in Mexico where their fruit is popular?

      You know you can lift ‘em and store ‘em in cool place over winter, just like you would a Dahlia, to plant out the next spring and get earlier crops….

      • Richard Mason says:

        Hi James,
        I’m trying cucamelons this year and I would like to know if you have any information on companion planting with them.If you are running any trials I would be pleased to be involved and submit any results.

    • Nancy says:

      Melothria heterophylla (Lour.) Cogn.
      Back
      Yes, the roots are edible Rhizowen

      Botanical name: Melothria heterophylla (Lour.) Cogn.
      Synonmous name:Zehneria umbellata Thw.
      Family name:Cucurbitaceae
      Common name:

      Genus:
      A large genus of annual or perennial climbers or herbs occurring in the tropics of the world. Leaves polymorphous. Flowers are small and yellow. Some species are medicinal and in some species the fruit is edible.

      Species:
      A herbaceous plant with tuberous root occurring throughout India. The plant bears polymorphous leaves and small yellow flowers coloured unisexual flowers. Fruit is brown coloured with many sub-spherical, smooth seeds. The roots, leaves and fruits are edible.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Hi, how high/wide do these vines grow please…

    Jonathan

  3. Chris says:

    Hello,

    Are we able to save seed from these, or are they hybrids?

    Thank you

  4. Phay says:

    Where can I get seeds for these little darlings. I LOVE cucumbers and am now obsessed with these melons.

  5. Sam says:

    Are they available in the United States? and if so, where do I find them?
    Thanks

    • Jennifer says:

      Yes they are available in the United States I purchased them from Terroir Seeds out of Arizona I believe, we live in Indiana but they came really fast! :)

    • Ramona says:

      I got mine from rareseeds.com, they have lots of heirloom varieties.

  6. barbi says:

    otherwise known as ‘mexican sour gherkin’

  7. Wynn Currie says:

    Ae these genetically modified fruit? What is the background? How many days from transplanting until ripe? They look interesting.

    • James Wong says:

      Nope they’re not genetically modified. In fact they’re actually a very old-school crop cultivated since Aztec times in Mesoamerica. It’s just taken them a while to become well known outside their native range.

  8. Nancy says:

    Melothria heterophylla (Lour.) Cogn.
    Back

    Yes, the roots are edible Rhizowen

    Botanical name: Melothria heterophylla (Lour.) Cogn.
    Synonmous name:Zehneria umbellata Thw.
    Family name:Cucurbitaceae
    Common name:

    Genus:
    A large genus of annual or perennial climbers or herbs occurring in the tropics of the world. Leaves polymorphous. Flowers are small and yellow. Some species are medicinal and in some species the fruit is edible.

    Species:
    A herbaceous plant with tuberous root occurring throughout India. The plant bears polymorphous leaves and small yellow flowers coloured unisexual flowers. Fruit is brown coloured with many sub-spherical, smooth seeds. The roots, leaves and fruits are edible.

  9. [...] CUCAMELONS: GRAPE-SIZED CUKES Pos [...]

  10. angie says:

    I’m excited to see you. I watch you show each week. I also want to plant these cukes. Hopefully I can eat them. All give me horrible heartburn unless I remove the seeds. I miss cucumber sandwiches! Can’t wait to grow these.

  11. Bob Cannon says:

    Hi,

    What is the Latin name of the cucamelons please? I would be interested in reviewing your book. Please see www,quisqualis.com for some example reviews – my reviews are also sent out to a number of other websites and print publications. It would also be interesting to see if the plants would hold up under my Florida growing conditions.

    If the idea of a review interests you please let me know and I’ll send my mailing information.

    Bob G Cannon II

    • James Wong says:

      Hey there Bob, Thanks for the interest. The scientific name’s Melothria scabra & I suspect they’ll positively thrive given the extra heat and humidity you can give ‘em down in Florida. :)

  12. magdalena perez duarte says:

    Me gustaria saber en donde puedo adquirir las semillas, para plantarlas, ya que yo vivo en un lugar muy humedo, para ser precisa en Tepic Nayarit, Mexico

  13. Jason says:

    I am going to try growing cucamelons this season on my allotment. What kind of support is needed? Would some canes be suitable? And what kind of structure?

  14. Larry Wilson says:

    Melotheria are common and native here in the mountains of western Jalisco, Mexico where I have lived the past 8+ years. Had asked the locals about eating them and no one I have asked knew if they could be eaten. Some said they were bitter and poison. They ramble to at least 3 metres per vine in all directions all over the spiny shrubs and trees along roadsides. Good to know they are edible: will try some when the rains return. The structure of the seed chamber as the fruit matures is quite interesting too. The fruit splits at the distal end and the rind tends to roll back somewhat exposing the intricate cells inside that hold the seed. Thanks so much for the information.

  15. Wanda says:

    where can I get the seeds?

  16. Wanda says:

    where do I get the seeds??

  17. Debbie says:

    where do I find seeds to start the plants?

  18. Sharon says:

    I am in love with these!!

  19. Anne says:

    Are these Genetically Modified, I’ve never heard of them before.

  20. Darcey says:

    I tried ordering your seeds. You don’t ship to the United States? :( So disappointed.

  21. Cindy says:

    Never tried these before. Sounds like an interesting taste, cucumber and lime. I am going to look out for cucalemons, looking forward to trying them.

  22. Ida says:

    The seeds are available at Terroir Seeds in Arizona, I received mine last week!

    • Angila Lanier says:

      I searched their website and could not find them..Are they under a different name.
      Ang

      • Kevin H says:

        Here, in the United States, you can find these seeds under the name, Mouse Melon. The seeds can be found on Ebay. I have been growing them for the past few years in Pueblo, Colorado. They do great in the light and heat and are nearly drought invincible.

  23. Laurie says:

    Do you ship to the U.S.?? I would love to grow some of these in my little garden!

  24. Kathy says:

    I found them on eBay. Grown in US.

  25. Elie says:

    Please I want to know If i can find cucamelons seeds in Lebanon thx

  26. Michael says:

    Hi, James,
    I love this and I love you for featuring these little gems. I grow these in Toronto, Canada at my city allotment garden. I save the seeds each year and I grow them under my tomatoes because they take up so little room and hang on to the tomatoe branches. These Mexican gherkins are so tasty, I am sure anyone can grow these. Thanks for the recipe for canning.

  27. judy says:

    Go to amazon.com. There are one or two choices. Plan on saving seeds when they ripen. Good luck

  28. I have found that though these seeds are as tiny as tomato seeds, they germinate really well. I made the mistake of sowing 4 in a 3 inch pot, but they looked too delicate to prick out. Those are in a pot on my windowsill, scrambling up some birch twigs and waiting to go out.

    I have sown some more individually in small fibre pots and they’re doing really well.

    Now, go away frosts so I can get them into the garden.

  29. Angila Lanier says:

    Sad sad sad….I live in the united State and I WANT THESE!!!! How can I get them?

  30. Jeff says:

    Is it advisable to save the seeds of cucamelon, or will they produce fruits with traits of other cucurbits? I’m growing mine on an allotment. Thanks.

  31. rob says:

    going to try growing this year the miniture melons in uk, please tell me if i could grow them in a large greenhouse as space is ltd outside.

  32. Andythescientist says:

    I’ve got my seeds germinating at the moment on a windowsill.. got about 4 up at the moment.

    I know you say they can be grown outdoors. I’m wondering if they would be better in a greenhouse? I’m trying to decide whether to plant them in the greenhouse or outside in a pot, i’m in Newcastle so not the warmest part of the country!

    • James Wong says:

      Yes. Like regular cucumbers they are definitely more productive in greenhouses, especially the further North you go. However as I don’t have the luxury of one, I have always grown them outdoors in a sheltered bit of my garden.

  33. Tony Birth says:

    Hi
    Any idea why these don’t seem to be sold anywhere in other than seed form? Or are they?

  34. Q says:

    Can these be grown in pots?

  35. Dilly says:

    Have these growing in my greenhouse in south west uk! Excited to see how they go! Thanks for the great range of seeds James. Have a whole James Wong section in greenhouse! Can’t wait for the results! First year of trying something new.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  36. Gary says:

    Hi James, how long do cucamelons take to germinate, what is the best way.

    I have them in compost, in my polytunnel. and its been over 10 days since I planted them, with no sign of seedlings yet.

    • James Wong says:

      Cucamelons, unlike most cucurbits (squash, courgettes, pumpkins, etc), take ages to germinate – up to 4 weeks!

      The key factor to speeding this up is giving them enough heat, which was sadly lacking this freezing spring. Usually a sunny windowsill is perfect, but under very cold conditions I would pop them in a heated propagator.

  37. Cait says:

    Hi.,
    I have read in your book that you can grow these indoors in your home?
    For that use can I still sow them (bought your seeds online :)) and will they give fruit in the winter (maybe with a grow light?)? And the inca berrys can they also grow inside and be sown now for that?
    Love your book!

    • James Wong says:

      Yes, as long as they get enough light and heat, cucamelons are fine to grow indoors – for example in a conservatory or by a bright windowsill in a warm living room.

      Inca berries is theory would be fine too, but they can take up quite a lot of space. How about trying Physalis ‘Little Lanterns’ which is a variety from a very closely-related species of Physalis that produces far more compact plants?

  38. miriam says:

    my plants are growing well and are covered in little
    yellow flowers but none of them will set. what should I do ?

  39. Jenny says:

    Hi, my cucmamelons seems to only be growing upwards, with no side shoots, they are about a metre tall. Will they still fruit? Do I pinch them out at any point? Each has a few canes but am wondering if try need some string between?
    Thank you!

  40. Paul Ellis says:

    Hi, I am intending to grow mine in pots or containers. What size would you recommend and for how many plants?
    Regards Paul

  41. Karen landy says:

    Can I sow them outside in pots as it now the end of June. Or shall I start them in the greenhouse in a propergater

  42. Helen Lord says:

    I’ve got 4 plants all growing nicely (2-3 feet tall) in the greenhouse in small pots. There’s very little space left in the g/h (OH’s superhot chillis taken over) so wonder if they’d be OK all together in 10-14″ pot with a wigwam of bamboo or will they suffer overcrowding? The alternative is to grow half of them outside and half in or try and cram one into a tomato pot but the toms are already really big so probably will steal all the nutrients. Many thanks.
    PS so glad I read this as was going to give 2 away but realise to get enough fruit I should probably keep all of them :-)

    • James Wong says:

      Cucamelon vines are spindly little things, a bit like peas, so I reckon you could probably pack them all in a large 14′ pot as long as you keep on top of the watering. That is certainly how I grow mine :)

  43. Karen Allen says:

    My Cucamelons are growing in my conservatory. I have strong healthy plants but the fruits are very small and are not developing any further. I give them plenty of water . Do the flowers need to be fertilised to produce bigger fruit? Would the plants do better outside? Do they grow better in rich or poorer soil conditions?

  44. rlg says:

    In Kansas these things can be a weed and spread like wild fire. They also can over-winter in the southern part of Kansas. I have found them difficult to control. Ours appeared after a tornado one year and we have been fighting them for nearly ten years.

  45. Jendi says:

    Never heard of these, but want to try them! I love cucumbers and have grown them; so if these are easier I should be able to manage them.

  46. rob says:

    ok, hold the bus. I now have some male flowers coming, so not to worry about last question.

Leave a Reply