We Want to Marry/Adopt/Cuddle This Adorable Fruit

August 12, 2016

We've fallen hard for fruit before: eggplants with noses like Proboscis monkeys'; tiny yellow Sungold tomatoes with tinier green mohawks; radishes with tails so long and skinny you have to squint to see them.

Photo by Wino-Sapien
Photo by The Telegraph

But we hadn't seen cucamelons! (Or maybe we had? They also go by "Mexican sour gherkins" or "mouse melons" and, at the Union Square Greenmarket, live up near the cashier at some stands.)

The cucamelon not a tiny watermelon (quick tangent: baby kiwis!), but a cucumber relative with a similar, if more citrusy, taste.

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These little guys don't have to be peeled and can be chopped, pickled, used to garnish a salad or a Bloody Mary... I wouldn't try turning them into cucumber "noodles," however—that's just setting yourself up for frustration.

According to Mother Nature Network, cucamelons are relatively easy to grow in your garden (or in a hanging basket!): They're drought-resistant, they don't succumb to mildew, and they grow in all regions. The vines are invasive, though, so if you do decide to try your hand at growing them yourself, you'll want to use a trellis and monitor the growth.

What would you do with a cute cucamelon? Tell us in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • BerryBaby
  • Kaite
  • porsha
  • Liz D
    Liz D
  • Panfusine
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


BerryBaby August 13, 2016
Yes, thanks, Phil! My plant is done for the year and it produced a good amount of fruit. There was a jar of dill pickles that was almost empty, so I ate the two pickles and tossed the babies in there! When they are pickled, they sink to the bottom. Most of them have sunk, but I'll wait until they are all ready before giving them a try.
Kaite August 13, 2016
Thank you for including information about how the plant is invasive! I always check that before planting an exotic. I spent several years helping rid natural areas of invasive plant species so I'm vigilant about keeping others at bay! I was going to plant shiso/perilla this year, so I looked it up and found out it was invasive. I'll just keep buying it rather than risking it taking over. Props to you! :)
porsha August 12, 2016
I've been growing these for a few years and they really are invasive. They always choke out the climbing vines I have in my planter, but reward me with lots of little cukes!

My farmers market calls them Sanditas.
Liz D. August 12, 2016
Actually, they could be considered tiny watermelons, as cucumbers and watermelons are in the same family...I always thought I could taste a bit of cucumber flavor in watermelon....
jennifer August 13, 2016
Me, too! I don't actually like cucumbers much, and so sometimes I have an aversion to watermelon. Now I know why. My grandmother, the matriarch of a family of farmers who included watermelon in their crops, could never understand why some people (me, my daughters) didn't like watermelon....I wish I had had this information to share with her at the time....sometimes they taste too cukey!
Panfusine August 12, 2016
the mouse melon was a kind of let down, its very similar in taste to the Ivy gourd which is easily available in India grocery stores, and I eneded up preparing these along the same lines.. (needless to say, I've never been a ivy gourd fan)
labingha August 12, 2016
I live a half a block from the Berkeley Bowl where on any given day there are more food tourists than actual shoppers and, let me tell you, the aisles are full to the breaking point with actual shoppers. All of which is to say, it's a destination because they have everything. Including "cucamelons," packaged as "baby watermelons" at the Bowl. I bought them last summer and pickled them using the Zuni Cafe pickled zucchini recipe. A hit!
PHIL August 12, 2016
Berry Baby was discussing them on the hotline: