This year I had great success growing cucamelons. They are tiny cucumbers with a taste of a hint of lime. I like them just popped into the mouth as a quick snack. I recently read that they can be stir fried but I haven’t tried it yet.
As you can see each cucamelon has a lot of seeds inside. Being the seedaholic I am I had to learn how to save these seeds. Like tomatoes and cucumbers this seed is easiest saved by fermenting it first. It removes the gelatinous substance that coats the seeds. Once this is removed the seeds will germinate faster for you.
This week I wanted to collect as much seed as I could. The plants are finished growing for the season so it’s the last of the fruit. I cut the cucamelon in half and squeezed the seeds out with my fingers. I tried a spoon once but the melons are too small. A narrow baby spoon might work. Use a spoon to scrape the seeds down the sides of the jar as they tend to stick. I placed the seeds into a clean half pint mason jar.
This is what it will look like in the jar. This is about four ripe cucamelons. Here you can see the gelatinous substance around the seeds. This protects the seeds and inhibits germination.
The next step is to add about an inch of water. As I add the water I try to rinse any seeds still on the sides of the jar down to the bottom. There are always one or two trying to escape.
The last step is to grab a piece of parchment paper that will fit on your jar. Parchment paper will allow air to get in the jar but hold back any smell while it ferments. Write the name of the plant which in this case is cucamelon and the date. Screw a jar ring on the jar and place the jar in a cool dry area. I have mine tucked away under a cupboard but they get some light in the kitchen.
If you look at the jar the seeds will sink to the bottom. Leave the jar for about five days until you see mold forming on the surface of the water. I found this to be the magic number of days for my home but temperature and light may make your timing different. I did find that rinsing the seeds too early left me with seeds that were sticky still. The next step is to remove the ring and label. Add some water to the jar and let the seeds settle to the bottom again.
Carefully drain the water out a bit being careful not to lose the seeds. Add a bit more water a few times and drain each time. Eventually any floating flesh or mold will be removed and your seeds will be clean. Place the clean seeds on a saucer, not paper, to dry for a few days. Place your parchment paper label over the seeds. Once dried, store the cucamelon seeds in an envelope and label it. Above are two types of cucamelons seeds. The ones on the right have not been fermented and you can see the green gelatinous substance is stuck to them making the seeds harder to separate. The seeds on the left are what I am looking for, nice and dry and no stickiness to them. Why did I save them without fermentation? Since its my first year saving these seeds I will test the unfermented seed to see how it compares with the cleaned seed. You can use this same process to save seeds from tomatoes and cucumbers as well. They are considered wet seeds. Store dry seeds in a cool garage that is frost-free. Be sure all seed is dried throughly before storing.
To read more about my first growing experience with cucamelons, read Its the Year of the Cucamelon