Also called mouse melon, sandita, and Mexican sour gherkin, this fun, diminutive veggie is a great addition to the garden. Knowing how to harvest a cucamelon, though, is not obvious, so it is important to understand how and when these fruits ripen and how to know when they’re best to pick and eat.
Cucamelon Harvest Info
If you have yet to discover and grow cucamelon in your vegetable garden, it’s time to try out these fun little fruits. A cucamelon in Spanish is called a sandita, or little watermelon. Both names describe just what this fruit is like: it looks like a miniature watermelon, and it is a member of the same family as cucumbers.
The cucamelon is small and can be eaten whole and fresh but are also great for pickling. The plant looks a lot like a cucumber plant, and grows similarly. Its vines are delicate and need some kind of support. The flavor of the cucamelon is like a cucumber with a hint of lemon or lime sourness.
When is a Cucamelon Ripe?
Growing these fruits is a great idea, but harvesting cucamelons is not necessarily intuitive. Don’t let the fact that this is a cucumber relative fool you. Cucamelons don’t grow much larger than a grape, so don’t wait for a cucumber-sized fruit to harvest.
Cucamelon picking should be done when the fruits are not much more than an inch (2.5 cm.) in length and still firm to the touch. If you pick them later, they will be very seedy. Cucamelons develop and ripen pretty quickly after the flowers appear, so keep watching your vines daily.
The flowers and fruits should be abundant, but if you want to force more to develop, you can pick some of the fruits earlier and before they are ripe. Expect to get a continuous harvest from your mature plants from mid- to late-summer, and well through the fall.
When it’s done, you can dig up the tuberous roots and store in a cool and dry place over the winter. Replant in the spring, and you’ll get an earlier harvest of cucamelons.