How to harvest and preserve cucamelons


Looking like miniature watermelons, cucamelons are also known as ‘mouse melons’. Their refreshing cucumber-mixed-with-lime flavour makes them ideal for popping into a summer cocktail or adding to a glass of Pimm’s. But what else can you do with this glorious little superfood which keeps on fruiting all through the summer and into autumn? Here are three of our favourite ways to use cucamelons in the kitchen. 

How to tell when your cucamelons are ready to pick

Cucamelons are ready to harvest when firm and about the size of a grape. Carefully remove them from the vine as soon as you can because the longer you leave them, the tougher and more bitter the skins become – young, tender and tasty is always best. Store your fruits in the fridge where they’ll be fine for up to about 10 days, and use them as a tasty addition to summer salads, interesting crudites, and for perking up sandwiches and wraps. As the little fruits keep coming, get ready to salsa, pickle, and more…

1. Pickled cucamelons

By pickling your produce, you can enjoy the taste of summer even in the depths of winter!
Image: Fotema/Shutterstock

James Wong’s inspiring book – Homegrown Revolution – has plenty of suggestions for enjoying your cucamelon harvest. For those of us with bumper harvests, how about taking James’ advice and pickling some cucamelons ready to bring a taste of summer to cold winter days? Here’s his recipe for pickled cucamelon with dill & mint:

Ingredients:

  • 250g cucamelons – washed and drained
  • 375ml white wine vinegar 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp dill – chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint – chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 fresh oak or grapevine leaf

Method:

Pour the vinegar into a bowl with the salt and sugar and whisk until they dissolve. Stir in the herbs.Pop the cucamelons into a sterilised 500ml jar, scrunch up the leaf and place it on top – the tannins in the leaf help to keep the cucamelons crisp. Now pour the vinegar into the jar, seal tightly, and place it in the fridge. Your pickled cucamelons will be ready after two weeks.

2. Sweet cucamelon salsa

Swap out cucumbers for cucamelons in your summer salsa for an additional lime kick
Image: Farmersgirl Kitchen

A homemade salsa is a wonderfully sweet and tangy way to accent a homemade burger, salad or wrap and is a great method of preserving some of your cucamelon harvest. Because cucamelons are a member of the same plant family as cucumbers, why not take your favourite cucumber chutney recipe and adapt it? Simply switch in the cucamelons for a piquant sauce with a little extra kick of lime flavour?

Over at Farmersgirl Kitchen, Janice offers a delicious-sounding recipe for cucumber relish that’s just asking to get the cucamelon treatment. Her simple recipe includes red peppers, onions and chilli flakes to taste. If that’s got your tastebuds watering, head over to her blog for the full recipe and instructions.

3. Cucamelon and watermelon salad

Add cucamelon to a fruit salad for a burst of zest
Image: Rubber Slippers in Italy

Because cucamelon has that subtle pop of lime, you’ll want to complement it with other zesty flavours, and contrast it with sweeter tastes. Over at Rubber Slippers in Italy, Rowena posts a lovely-looking recipe for a cucamelon and watermelon salad with a Greek twist. Combining tangy feta and sweet, succulent watermelon chunks with cucamelons looks like a winning combination. As Rowena says, cucamelons “make a nice textural contrast in a watermelon salad.”

How do you like to enjoy your cucamelon harvest? We’re always on the hunt for new recipe ideas to share with our readers – if you’ve come up with a show-stopping cucamelon recipe, we’d love to hear from you. Just drop us a line.

Lead image: Shutterstock





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