Sandiita-raton/Mexican Sour Gherkin /Melothria scabra

Have you ever had a mini Mexican Sour Gherkin aka Sandiita raton?  Me neither. But I’m really curious. I have heard that I can find it here at farmers’ market in Manhattan’s Union Square. I would definitely try to get to the Greenmarket on Saturday morning (starts at 8:00 am). My favorite time to go to the greenmarkets is in the winter. I feel like some kind of pioneer, bundling up first thing in the morning when it’s 25ºF outside to go out for provisions (my husband thinks I’m crazy). But I can’t help myself. There are root vegetables galore; especially rutabagas, yautia, parsnips, pickles, grains and dried beans. Perhaps I’ll see if I can pick up some jicamas, mushrooms and Cider. Okay, enough chit-chat, please continue reading.

The scientific name of this plant is Melothria scabra. It is native to Mexico and Central America, and was first described scientifically in 1866 by the French botanist Charles Victor Naudin. Melothria scabra is a species of cucurbitaceous vine grown for its edible fruit. Fruit are about the size of grapes and taste like cucumbers; they are notable for their sour aftertaste that comes from the skin. Vernacular names include mouse melon, Mexican sour gherkin, sandiita raton and Mexican miniature watermelon. It has been a staple of Mexican and Central American diets since pre-Columbian times, hence its great array of names in indigenous languages. These people also use the melon in non-culinary ways, including in medicine, yet little of this information can be found in mainstream literature.

If you like pickles, you’re in luck: They’re low in calories, have no fat and have probiotic benefits. Mexican cookbooks written for North Americans include recipes on how to use Mouse melons, yet seeds are readily available in the United States. Mouse melons are terrific in stir-fries; they can be pickled just like French gherkins, eaten raw in salads or put up like Polish dill pickles. They also can be chopped and added to salsas for extra texture and flavor. I was surfing the internet and found this recipe. I’m definitely going to try them!

Pickled Mexican Sour Gherkin

about 1 1/4 lbs, Mexican Sour Gherkin
3 tablespoons pickling salt
4 shallots, peeled
1 bay leaf
2 tarragon sprigs
10 black peppercorns
2 small dried chile peppers
about 2 cups white wine vinegar

Wash the mini watermelon gently, and remove the blossom ends. In a bowl, mix the minis with salt. Let them stand 24 hours. Drain the cucumbers. Rinse them in cold water, and pat each one dry with a clean towel. Pack the cucumbers into a sterile 1-quart jar, interspersing among them the shallots, bay leaf, tarragon, peppercorns, and chili peppers, and leaving at least 1 inch headspace. Fill the jar to the brim with vinegar. Cover the jar tightly with a non-reactive cap, preferably one that is all plastic. Store the sealed jar in the refrigerator they will be ready to eat in 4 to 6 weeks. Happy Pickling!

About zoom50

“It’s amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease”
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13 Responses to Sandiita-raton/Mexican Sour Gherkin /Melothria scabra

  1. kimkiminy says:

    They are darling! I will look for them at my produce market. I love pickles.

  2. akamonsoon says:

    I’ve never heard of these. I’ll have to ask my husband about them.

    • zoom50 says:

      I am going to try growing the little gherkins in hanging baskets next year. I really want to try it! I am planing to buy the seeds online via Seed Savers. 😉

  3. marywithrow says:

    Hi! I realize this is a old article but I was looking for pickling Gherkin and you are 1 of very few that had a recipe. I was wondering if you have tried the recipe and if you ever grew them? Did you try the hanging basket and how they did and what you thought of the taste? Did you try them any other way? I love to try unusal plants for the fun of it and this year I ordered those. Very nice blog, Thank you, Mary

    • Anonymous says:

      I grew them this year. They are CUTE CUTE CUTE and easy…
      A fun easy grower here in Colorado. I recommend them! I bought seeds online.

  4. June C says:

    Hi, I was also interested in an update on these cucumbers. I would, in particular, like to hear results from people growing in zone 10 (South Florid)

  5. marywithrow says:

    Hi June I found this article on another web site that might help you here: and theres a pretty good article on Wikipedia

    • June C says:

      Thank you Mary, I just ordered these seeds (15 seeds in a package) from a seller on EBay. I think it is getting too late to plant (will be getting too hot here in FL) I will give a few seed a try then try again in Aug, or Sept She only charged $3.00 for the seeds including postage!

      • marywithrow says:

        Lol, I ordered off Ebay too and received my seeds a few days ago. I believe they come from Mexico so you should do great. Beware though, they will probley reseed themselves. They were just too cute to pass up, ha ha

      • June C says:

        Yes, I agree. I read that someone was going to try then in a hanging basket. I think I might try that first. I hope they taste as good as eveyone says. I found no negative comments about them….except that they may resead and be a pest…..worse things have happened in my yard


  6. marywithrow says:

    If you get a chance, let me know how it works out and I will do the same, lol. My other quest this year is the Pepino Melon. I found it here (being down south, you probley have run accross it already and would have a better chance of growing) but I am going to call local stores first to see if they carry it! Happy Easter! Mary

    • June C says:

      .Thanks for the link Mary but, I will stick with just the Mexican Cucumber for now.

      I think you will have better results in your area (you live up north, right?) then I will……at least until it is Florida’s “spring” again, which is the end of August

      The day the seeds arrive I will put a few in a peat pot …..and they pray!

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