Also called mouse melons? This tiny watermelon look-alike from south of the border is grape-sized and tastes of cucumber with a hint of lime. They are going to be very popular soon, kind of like the ‘ipad mini’ of the vegie world…
Why? because they are pest free, drought tolerant, easy to grow, and a vigorous climber/trailer that produces masses of fruit throughout the summer!
Its botanical name is Melothria scabra and it comes from Mexico/Central America where it is called sandita de Raton (little mouse melon). They have been grown there since Pre-Columbian times and need a sheltered sunny spot to grow.
Their taste is unusual in that – first it tastes like cucumber but the aftertaste is something tart.. Karen Bertelsen of the blog ‘The Art of Doing Stuff’ describes it this way:
“When you bite into the mouse melon the first flavour you get is cucumber, but then your salivary glands do that weird thing where they kind of burn and clench up, like when you eat salt and vinegar chips.”
Even though these cucamelons are a little more cool-weather tolerant than most cucumbers, it is a good idea to start the seeds indoors before setting them out in April – May when the soil gets warmer. The vines will grow to 10 feet and intermingle in a mass so you must have some sort of large structure for them to climb. Once they start to set fruit you can harvest them until first frost! No pests or birds attack them but keep them from the slugs on the ground. Pinch them as they grow to control and direct growth!
You can even treat them like a perennial if you lift the cucamelon’s main radish-like root and store in barely moist compost in a garage or shed over winter. Plant out again in spring warm weather.
Mouse melons can be used in stir-fries, can be pickled, eaten raw in salads. They can be chopped and added to salsas. The possibilities are numerous and these bite sized watermelons are a fun treat!