Adorable Gherkins

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Making The Most of Mexican Sour Gherkins

This year, all kinds of edibles enjoyed the extra warmth, rewarding us with bumper crops. Perhaps the most fun are the tiny, super cute little melons called Mexican sour gherkins. For most of my culinary life, gherkins have meant baby cukes that were brined into crispy little pickles. They might turn up on an appetizer plate or be served with cheese and crackers, but never made the foodie hit parade.

Mexican sour gherkins are not really cucumbers (Cucumis sativus), but rather bitty little melons (Melothria scabra) that hail from South and Central America. They exactly look like tiny, doll-sized watermelons, but have that distinctive cucumber crispness along with a sweet-tart, citrusy flavor that makes them the new darling of the fancy drinks world. Amy Stewart notes in her Drunken Botanist book and blog, that they meld well with gin in cool, summery concoctions.

Decorative Danglers

The fine textured foliage and skinny, twining stems make Mexican sour gherkin seem like a natural climber, but in my garden, it’s more of a tumbler. In the past, that’s led to some sorrow since slugs  clearly love these little guys. However, many gardeners have succeeded in getting this rambler to scramble up a trellis covered with chicken wire, so perhaps I’ve just not been persistent enough with the coaxing.

This year, I was given the hint to grow them in hanging baskets, so they can be both slug free and prolific. I saw amazingly productive plants grown this way in a large greenhouse, where the plants cascaded almost eight feet from the planters to picking height. Next season, I’ll try growing them on my upper deck and picking them from below, perhaps over a hanging sheet of chicken wire….

Easy To Please

In any case, when they are happy, Mexican sour gherkins grow with ease, with few pests (apart from those slugs). They do fine in any good garden soil, and though, like all melons, they prefer warm summers, they are more tolerant of cool temperatures than the big guy watermelons. If you can grow other melons, you can grow these cute little puppies.

Salads Galore

That cucumberish, lemony flavor makes Mexican Sour Gherkins a natural fit for salads of many kinds, from fruity to leafy. Here are a few especially tasty combinations to try:

Crunchy Summer Salad

2 cups chopped cucumber
2 cups peeled, cubed watermelon
1 cup Mexican sour gherkins
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup stemmed Italian parsley
2 tablespoons minced mint
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Gently toss all ingredients and let stand for 20 minutes before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 4-6.

Spunky Summer Salad

1 cup Greek plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 head Butter lettuce, torn in pieces
2 cups chopped cucumber
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup halved Mexican sour gherkins
4 green onions, thinly sliced

Combine yogurt, garlic, basil, and sea salt, set aside for at least 10 minutes. In a serving bowl, combine remaining ingredients, toss with yogurt dressing and serve. Serves 4-6.

Perfect Poaching

If you find salmon hard to cook, try low-liquid poaching. This gentle technique is fast and foolproof, resulting in velvety, flavorful fish that’s never dry.

Perfect Poached Salmon

With Mexican Sour Gherkin Salsa

For the fish:

1 pound wild salmon fillet, cut in four pieces
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice or dry white wine
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Rinse fish well and place skin side down in a wide, shallow pan. Add lemon juice to a depth of about 1/8 inch, splashing some on the fish. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Bring liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Cover pan, reduce heat to low an simmer for 8-10 minutes, to interior temperature of 136 degrees F. (usually 10 minutes for inch-thick fillets). Add a little water if need be (usually not). Remove from heat, uncover pan and let stand for 10 minutes. Serve with salsa (see below). Serve four.

For the salsa:

Mexican Sour Gherkin Salsa

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 ear fresh sweet corn, kernels trimmed
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped Mexican sour gherkins
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup stemmed fresh cilantro
2-3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (use gloves)

Combine first 6 ingredients, then add lime juice, sea salt, and jalapeno to taste. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Makes about 2 cups. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days.

This entry was posted in Gardening With Children, Pets & Pests In The Garden, Recipes, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Adorable Gherkins

  1. Teresa Stone says:

    Oh Wow! Those will be on,y grow list for next year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *