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.
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 Ã¢â‚¬Å“sandÃƒÂitaÃ¢â‚¬Â (Spanish for little watermelon).
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.