Cucamelons (The Cutest Darn Fruit You Ever Did See)

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Cucamelons go by many names: mouse melon, Mexican mini-watermelons, Mexican sour gherkin, etc., but I just like to call them the cutest darn fruit you ever did see. I just ordered my seeds online and I can’t wait to get them into the ground (well, container of dirt). They’re tiny cucumbers that look like watermelons and taste like cucumber with a hint of citrus flavor. They are extremely easy to grow and the plant itself is also beautiful with long curling vines and cute little yellow blossoms.

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We loved growing these because they’re constantly changing and make a lot of produce with a little effort. Also, I find it so much more rewarding to grow things that I can’t easily find in grocery stores.

Growing Tips:

The seeds are easiest to find online, which is where I bought mine. Plant the seeds about 4 inches apart in potting soil about ½ deep in either a hanging pot or along a trellis or cage. These seeds are notoriously slow to germinate so don’t give up hope if nothing seems to happen for about a month. Once they break through the soil, they shoot up quickly and start to change and grow every day. They prefer full sun but can handle some shade. In the hot days of summer, you may need to water every couple of days, though these plants are known to grow wild with no tending so they don’t need a lot of constant nurturing. This made them a great pick for novice edible gardeners like us. The cucamelons are ready to harvest when rounded on each end and about the size of a small grape. They will grow along the ground or can train up any kind of trellis. We used this old tomato cage for our cucamelons last year, but plan to grown them out of a hanging planter this year so the pretty curly tendrils and flowers hang down.

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Serving Suggestions:

These are great right off the vine but would also be excellent tossed in salads or served as a side dish tossed with olive oil, salt, and any other fresh vegetables. They also make adorable little pickles. You can find a recipe for pickled cucamelons at our fellow edible home farmer’s blog here: http://thepotlicker.com/2013/09/13/lemon-pickled-mouse-melons/

My favorite serving suggestion is to serve them at a cocktail party in drinks in place of olives for a unique garnish. So cute!

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Holiday Party or Game Night Idea: Popcorn Bar!

Once upon a time, two foodies were planning a wedding and thought it would be great to let their guests play with food and flavors at the reception. They spent months planning a beautiful popcorn bar with lots of toppings and lovely matching serving pieces. Then once all of the toppings were elegantly displayed and ready to go, the bride realized she forgot to bring the popcorn to the wedding…

Whoops!

Ah well, the popcorn bar was a huge hit when we saved everything and used it at our going away party before we moved. I think this would also work really well as a snack set up for a holiday or game watching party. It can easily be dressed up or dressed down to suit your occasion. For the wedding, the plan was to use multicolored vases to hold the cones and coordinated dishes for all of the toppings. It was easily “dressed down” for our picnic going away party by serving the popcorn in a beverage tub and the toppings in coordinated plastic dishes. Rather than having a bunch of bowls to keep track of and wash, we rolled multicolored scrapbook paper into cones and sealed with a sticker. For the holidays, you can use holiday scrapbook paper and for game night, printing the teams’ logos on regular printer paper for the cones would be nice touch.

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Then, just set out lots of popcorn and encourage guests to mix and match flavors. We’ve noticed that the seasonings will tend to stick to the popcorn better if you give the popcorn a splash of butter spray first. Here’s a list of suggestions for toppings that we used at our wedding, er, going away party: 

Chocolate chips

White chocolate chips

Butterscotch chips

Cinnamon sugar

Garlic salt

Sea salt

South African seasoning blend

Italian seasoning blend

Really anything you can throw on to popcorn will work. I’ve always loved the look of holiday M&Ms and if you have fresh herbs or chives around, those would work, too. The whole idea is to play with flavors and get creative!