Here’s one fruit that might seem like a “new thing” to many of us – cucamelons. Also called “Mexican sour gherkin” or “sandiita” (little watermelon) in Spanish, this fruit is anything but new.
The mini watermelon has a lot of other monikers in the many different Native American dialects and languages because it has been a part of the Central American flora for many millennia.
The sandiita or the cucamelon is the size of a big grape, it looks like a watermelon and it tastes like a cucumber with a touch of lime. It even looks like a cucumber when you slice it in half.
This unique fruit grows on thin vines dotted ivy-like leaves. Well-known long before Columbus “discovered” the continent, sandiita is a staple in Mexican cuisine. That alone is a reason enough for it to become more popular (or at least somewhat recognizable) in North America. There are a lot of health-related reasons for people in the U.S. to get to know the cucamelon too.
The health benefits of cucamelons
When it comes to one’s value “size matters not”, as a famous small green movie character used to say. Well, the same can be said about these small green fruits.
Cucamelons are essentially a superfood in their own right. They are abundant in many vitamins and minerals, and are also rich in fibers and antioxidants. At the same time, they are relatively low on calories, making them an even better addition to most diets.
That richness in nutrients is believed to help lower the risk of strokes, heart disease, as well as some cancers. And given the dismal statistics in the U.S. about these conditions, foods like the cucamelon can seem quite crucial.
What’s more, the cucamelons also contain large doses of lycopene, a carotenoid that helps with cardiac functions. The fruit also has beta-carotene which is a great antioxidant with many anti-aging properties.
The combination of all that with nutrients like vitamin C and potassium makes the cucamelon almost unparalleled among fruits for helping lower cholesterol levels.
And, as an added bonus, the phytonutrients in the fruit are also great for supporting the proper functioning of our eyes and many other organs.
Can you grow cucamelons in your yard?
The obvious problem with all we’ve said above is that good or not, cucamelons are not readily available in most grocery stores. Fortunately, however, they are relatively easy to grow so you can just grow your own.
Cucamelon vines suffer from very few pests, they don’t need a dedicated greenhouse, and there’s no need for a lot of pruning either.
Of course, as an exotic fruit then won’t grow too well or at all in most northern climates but southern and central U.S. does offer the right conditions for this fruit. That’s especially thanks to the cucamelon’s enviable drought resistance that can put even cucumbers to shame.
So, if you’re interested in growing your own cucamelons, here’s a quick guide:
1. Get some seeds. As with the fruits themselves, the seeds are hard to find in local markets. You can get them relatively easily online, however. They’re not much cheaper than other fruits’ seeds too but make sure that you’re still buying quality. Organic and chemical-free seeds will offer the fastest growth and the best yield so there’s no point in bothering with anything else.
Side note: Since the seeds are somewhat difficult to come by, make sure you save at least some of your own when your first cucamelons start growing. You can give them to your friends and family or, maybe, you can start a cucamelon business? The fact that they’re not common in the U.S. now doesn’t mean that they can’t be in a while. (Read more…)