It may look like a tiny watermelon, but this small, sour vegetable can make you pucker up faster than you can blink. Meet the mouse melon, aka Mexican sour cucumber, a vegetable you may think is a cross between a cucumber and a watermelon, but it isn’t.
The mouse melon is usually a hit with kids (just look how CUTE it is!), but adults also love it because of its sweet and tangy taste. Intrigued to know more about this adorable edible plant? We have compiled a list of facts that will raise eyebrows and make you drool for the mouse melon.
Facts about Mouse Melons
1. It goes by several names
The scientific name for the mouse melon is a mouthful – Melothoria scabra, but this adorable fruit goes by a number of different names as well. It is also known as Mexican sour gherkin, sandiita, sandia de raton, Mexican sour cucumber and cucumelon.
2. They are tropical perennials
These tiny fruits are tropical perennials. Ripe ones that fall to the ground can reseed and grow into vines that can take over an entire garden. These grow fast so to prevent this, make sure to collect fallen fruit throughout the season. The plant can also develop underground tubers in warm areas which can resprout and become a problem later. So make sure you dig up the tubers as well.
3. It is a versatile fruit and plant
Mouse melons grow in Central America and Mexico. It is used in the US as an edible curiosity and can be found in farmer’s markets and personal gardens rather than in mainstream grocery stores. The fruits are small enough to be used whole in salads and other recipes. Plus, it has pretty and delicate foliage so it can be displayed as edible ornamentals in containers or planters.
The plant actually looks quite similar to regular cucumbers. It has palmate leaves as well as curling tendrils that grow on long vines. The fast-growing perennial can grow easily in temperate and annual climates.
4. The plant has a unique look
The flowers have yellow petals that emerge from the leaf axils. What is unusual about the flowers is that the female ones appear before the male ones. The opposite is the case in regular cucumbers. The oblong, light green fruit grows soon after and looks like a large grape in appearance. The seed packets can take 70 to 75 days to mature. The interior of the plant is crunchy in terms of texture.
5. They can be eaten raw
Mouse melons can be eaten raw and without being peeled, like grapes. The taste is sweet with just a hint of sourness. You can also cut them up and use them in a stir fry.
6. They are resilient plants
Most people don’t know this but mouse melons are drought resistant. They eventually set out vines that can grow up to 10 feet long so they need support. With time, the plant shoots out gorgeous bright green leaves, yellow flowers and hundreds of oblong, tiny fruits. The mouse melon plant is also resistant to pests such as white flies, aphids and diseases that can level cucumber plants.
7. Seeds can be saved yearly
The seeds of the mouse melon plant can be saved from year to year. Just make sure that you choose the ripest fruits (the ones that have dropped from the plant themselves) and allow them to ripen for a few more weeks.
When the fruits are ready, take out the seeds that drop to the bottom and air dry them for a few weeks on a screen in a ventilated room. When the seeds are dry and brittle, store them in airtight containers and they will last for years. Plant them in the spring and see those vines cover your trellis and arch.
8. Vines should be pruned regularly
The mouse melon vine can grow fast and can cover an entire fence very quickly. If they are not managed the vines can become a tangled mess that you may have to hire a gardener to cut down. So prune the vines regularly to ensure this doesn’t happen. It may look beautiful, but it can choke other plants in your garden or wreak havoc in your neighbor’s yard. Good fences make good neighbors, but not if that fence is letting an invasive vine in!
9. They should be treated like cucumber plants so they can flourish
Mouse melon plants should be treated like cucumber plants if they are to flourish. For example, if you think the soil is poor, add a slow-release fertilizer when you plant the seeds and do so every two weeks. Also add a soluble organic fertilizer to aid growth.
Grow Your Own Mouse Melons Using This Easy To Follow Video!
You don’t have to scour farmer’s markets for this delectable fruit if you can grow it yourself in your backyard. Mouse melons are not difficult to grow at all. Just follow this video and you will have your own crop along with a beautiful vine over your fence, in no time!
Mouse melons may seem like fruits you would get if you mixed a watermelon with a cucumber, but these tiny and delectable fruits can stand on their own in the culinary world. Pop them in your mouth as a light snack. Slice them up into a delectable salad that your friends will love.
Watch it take your garden’s aesthetics to the next level. There is little this versatile perennial cannot do. Use the video provided in this blog to grow your own crop of mouse melons and see what you have been missing out on.
Image credit: thebittenworld.com
I’m Natalie Garcia and I started this website to share my love of trivia, facts and fun knowledge tidbits. We cover things like celebrity gossip, historical facts, tv shows, world leaders and just odd and random fun things. I started this site to have some fun with my hobby and share some useful information with you, our community. Please feel to send me your suggestions and feedback through the contact form. And if you have suggestions for things to write about, please shoot me a message!