Monday, June 18, 2012

Armenian "Cucumber" - a melon?

Recently we heard from a member of our local gardeners group that Armenian Cucumbers are starting to be ripe in the area. We don't have any growing in our yard, so we headed over to Amadio Ranch where they happened to have some. I've mentioned the Amadio's place before. They grow delicious fruits and vegetables. They also have chickens, a cow and some really friendly big dogs who let me hug and pet them (I miss my golden retriever, Roman it's just not the same hugging our little dogs) So for me, it's a win win! They have decent prices and sometimes they slip fun things into an order for us to try. The first Armenia Cucumber we got came to us as just such an add on I believe, and since then we've gone back for more.  The first batch was eaten by Patch because I was sick and unable to eat vegetables. But recently I've been adding veggies back into my diet, and this is the first thing I tried. YUM! I ate them rind and all, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Patch used a mandolin slicer and put them in her salads. They looked very unusual and I don't know why more people aren't using them in salads around the valley, fun! This picture shows some sliced but with the seeds still inside. I removed the seedy parts from the middle, and it leaves you with interesting looking green bits. They taste pretty much like a cucumber, but it's not and I didn't have an allergic reaction, which is always a plus in my book!

Now technically I'm allergic to cucumbers, so you'd think I would be to these. But I was told they are actually not a cucumber but a melon which explains the lack of hives. You can bet I did my research before biting into them, and then I just tried one bite to play it safe. If you're allergic to a lot of foods you learn to first test things out for yourself as well as reading about foods. I test by first touching the new food to my lips to see if there is any itching or swelling. If nothing happens, I take a small bite and hold it in my mouth waiting for an allergic response. If I still have none, I eat a single bite and wait 20 - 30 minutes. If I still have no allergic response, I eat a small serving and wait for a day or two. Sometimes I have sort of a delayed reaction, but this time I did not. One of the delayed reactions I get is a sort of fuzzy headed feeling. It becomes difficult to concentrate and later I sometimes get a migraine. The fuzzy headed feeling could be stage one of a migraine actually, it's called a pre migraine aura.

Here is one page from the Backyard Gardener that explains a bit about Armenian Cucumbers: I am very excited to find something delicious, healthy and crunchy that I can add to salads or eat on it's own. I may try looking up some recipes online using these and see what I find, but for now I'm perfectly happy eating them like I would a cucumber.

This one was about a foot and 1/2 long or so, and about as thick as a tennis ball although it varies in size from end to end as you can see. It's shown here near a rather large cucumber if memory serves. (tho that could be a zucchini, I don't remember)  Eric Amadio suggested we save the seeds. I did so by removing the seeds from the melon by hand, placing it in water, and separating the seeds from the slime a bit by hand under the water. Here is some information on seed saving and why the bad ones float: You can bet I am going to save the seeds out of this one, because he says they grow really well in the desert heat, and in my experience, most melons do! I love having edible plants in my backyard, and if you plant them in different months, you have something producing almost year round. Here they are on seed savers: in case you'd like to try them out yourself and don't live in our area.

I'll be planting some of them that I just saved from dinner, although who knows what will grow as they were grown near other melons, so I may get some sort of hybrid melon due to cross pollination, or it is possible they will just grow a lot of leaves. Either way, it sounds like a fun adventure, so I'm going to give it a try and see what comes up. Worst comes to worse, I'll learn from the experience but who knows maybe I'll get some weird Armenian Cucalope LOL!

Next year I may get some seeds from seed savers or some similar place that I know will produce Armenian Cucumbers and plant the melons at different times so that there is only one pollinating at a time. We'll see how that goes for reducing cross pollination in a small area.

If you grow some of your own food, here are some general tips about some delicious plants: but I would recommend you look for a planting calendar that is specific to your area and plant in season, remembering that your yard may have some slight differences such as I have a 10 x 10 portion of my yard which is in shade most of the day and most of the year due to it's position, so this is where I have planted a tree which filters the little light that does get to that area, and beneath it, some berries. I personally use a combination of planting calendars including the one from Gardeners World down the street which of course recommends the plants which they sell, but so far has always been very helpful info, and mostly I use a combo of the information from the and the one from the University of Arizona's Agriculture Department:

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