The cucamelon may not be a mainstream fruit in the supermarket; but when you set eyes on them for the first time, it's hard not to be intrigued. They look like a cross between a watermelon and a cucumber, but they're not the result of a scientific experiment. These tiny grape-sized fruits have been a domesticated crop in Mexico and Central America for centuries.
If you’re interested in buying or growing cucamelons, you may be wondering what they taste like. We’re about to provide a full review of their flavor, texture, uses in the kitchen, and more. Let’s dive in!
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What Does Cucamelon Taste Like?
The cucamelon has a mildly sweet flavor combined with citrus acidity and a faint sour undertone; it’s like a cucumber combined with a splash of lime juice. Biting into a fresh cucamelon, you’ll find its skin is a little thicker than a cucumber and has a firm, crunchy bite. Its juicy flesh appears translucent and has a soft texture, with lots of small seeds that are edible. Cucamelons have a pleasant aroma that is fresh and summery.
Like many vegetables, the cucamelon’s flavor develops as it matures. Initially, it is mildly tart, but the sourness will become more noticeable in older produce. For eating out of hand, most people prefer the young, early-season fruit.
Where to Buy Cucamelons
Cucamelons can be a challenge to find in supermarkets; your best option is to search farmer’s markets when they're in season. They’re also popping up more frequently in higher-end supermarkets and specialty stores.
Cucamelons are hardy, fast-growing plants that you may want to grow at home if you’re in a warm climate. Within 2-3 months of planting the seeds, you’ll be able to pick them fresh from the vine. Although they don’t require much space in the garden, you will need a trellis or something similar for the vines to grow on.
Uses for Cucamelons
Although cucamelons are considered a fruit, they are mostly used for savory purposes in the kitchen. The simplest option is to give the fruit a rinse under the tap, then eat them out of hand. Kids love these tasty morsels thanks to their unique shape – they’re the ideal option for getting them to eat something healthy. Other uses for cucamelons include:
- add a slice to garnish a gin or a fruity sangria.
- toss into a fresh garden salad.
- slice them and add them to a burger, wrap, or sandwich.
- combine in a bowl with beetroot and feta.
- pickle in jars for later use or a unique gift.
- make a refreshing, spicy salsa with some chikoo.
- cook them in a stir-fry
The cucamelon is a robust fruit that will take the knocks without bruising. They should be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight for 1-2 weeks.
Store cucamelons in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. As they age, their flavor remains, but they lose that delicious crunchy texture. At this point, they shouldn’t be discarded unless there are visible signs of mold. Instead, slice them up and infuse them into a jug of water or lemonade for a refreshing beverage.
Cucamelon Pickle Recipe
Cucamelon Pickle Recipe
- 230 g fresh cucamelons enough to fill two 8-ounce mason jars
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 10 allspice berries
- 1 star anise pod
- 4 Tbsp filtered water
- ⅔ cup cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- Slice off the blossom ends of the cucamelons and rinse under cold tap water. Cut them in half and add even amounts to the sterilized jars.
- Toss in the red pepper, peppercorns, allspice berries, and the anise pod.
- Combine water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Pour the liquid into the jars until it almost reaches the top, then add the lids.
- Refrigerate for 24-48 hours before consuming. Kept in the refrigerator, they’ll last 10-14 days.
Other common names for the cucamelon include Mexican sour gherkin, Mexican sour, mouse melon, pepquinos, and Mexican sour cucumber. The Spanish name for this fruit is sandiita or little watermelon.
Although the name implies they’re a mix of cucumber and melon, you'd be sadly mistaken. They are part of the cucumber family, and their scientific name is Melothria scabra.
Cucamelons are the shape of an elongated egg and are similar in size to grapes. Their skin is a mottled combination of light and dark green. The best description of their exterior is a mini watermelon; its interior is similar to a tiny version of a kiwano.
Fruit that is left on the vine too long turns bitter with an unpleasant soggy texture.
Are cucamelons good for you?
Although they’re small, cucamelons are packed with nutritional goodness, including antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are also low in calories and high in water content.
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Cucamelons look like miniature watermelons, and it’s this unique look that makes them an excellent addition to salads for something a little different. Their flavor is a lot like cucumber with a splash of lime or lemon. Although they are a little sourer than regular cucumbers, kids will still enjoy them for the novelty factor. They’re the ideal size for school lunches, or take them to the office for a nutritious snack.
We associate the cucamelon with summer. It adds a refreshing fresh burst of acidic flavor to cocktails (and mocktails) that’s hard to beat.
Have you tried cucamelons before? How did you eat them? Please let us know in the comments below.