It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t appreciate the cute factor of mouse melons. Also known as Mexican gherkins, the fruit of Melothria scabra looks like watermelons shrunk for a dollhouse tea party. Each is the size of a grape, speckled white with green striations.
Raw, the mouse melons have the taste and crunch of a fresh cucumber but with a burst of bright sour lemon from the skin. They are conversation pieces when used in salads, stir-fries, desserts or martinis. And they make wonderful bread-and-butter pickles.
Mouse melons are in the same family as cucumbers but originated in Mexico and Central America, not in India, like most familiar members of the Cucurbitaceae family. In Mexico they’re called sandita, little watermelon.
Although slow to get going, mouse melons eventually vine 10 or more feet in the air with support once they're established, putting out bright green leaves, little yellow flowers and hundreds of fruit. They are relatively drought-tolerant and more resistant to the pests and diseases that plague cucumbers: powdery mildew, white flies, aphids.