Mexican Sour Gherkin

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Adorably teeny tiny Mexican Sour Gherkins (Melothria scabra) are starting to pop up all over the vines I’ve got growing at my community garden plot. The fruit in the picture is about half and inch or so and should be approximately 1-2″ when fully ripe however I am extremely impatient and picked a few for tasting. They taste very much like tiny, juicy cucumbers. Every description I have read says they have a surprisingly sour skin that makes them taste almost pre-pickled straight off the vine. Mine were very fresh flavored so I can only guess that the sourness will develop as the fruit matures.

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The plant is a very ornamental and prolific vine with lots of pretty little leaves dotted by miniature yellow flowers. The tiny, ridiculously cute fruit are like Lilliputian watermelons, accounting for nicknames like “mouse melon” and “sandíita” (Spanish for little watermelon).

Growing It

I started mine this past spring from seeds purchased online via Seed Savers. I was a little bit concerned by the small size of the plants in comparison to other cucumbers at planting time but they took off immediately and quickly climbed up the trellis I made for my cucumbers using bamboo stakes and a plastic “chicken wire” leftover from another project. So far the plants are living up to their reputation as a pest and disease-resistant species — while some of the other curcubits are starting to show signs of powdery mildew the Mexican Sour Gherkins are entirely blemish and pest free. The plants are also much more drought tolerant than other cucumber-related plants making them a welcome addition to gardens like mine that can’t be tended to on a daily basis. I am not growing any on my rooftop garden this year but I would imagine that unlike many cucumber varieties that can be tricky in containers, their drought tolerant nature and small size would make this a good option in a medium-large sized container.

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Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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6 thoughts on “Mexican Sour Gherkin

  1. The seed savers web site is a little bit addictive. Clearly I’ll be ordering from there next year!

    The sour gherkins are adorable.

  2. This sounds like a fun veggie to grow. What do you do with it? Do you treat it like a cucumber in terms of flavors and uses?

  3. Hi Gayla, first let me say I just read your excellent book “You Grow Girl” which led me to your great website! Very good, I garden in a suburban apartment complex in Port Orchard, Washington State USA. Your book will prove useful to me. It was very inspiring. I’m going to plant a kitty garden and make a chicken wire cloche also! The Mexican Sour Gherkin is darlin! Keep up the good work

  4. We just ate ‘em as part of a mezze w/ hummus, pita, all that sort of stuff. I think they’d be good chopped and added to egg or chicken salad. I didn’t grow them, just bought them at the farmer’s mkt.

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