A cucumbers relative, achocha produces masses of edible, bladder-shaped fruit on vigorous, low maintenance vines.


Cyclanthera pedata

Also known as ‘stuffing cucumber’ and ‘potol’.

A relative of squashes and cucumbers, achocha produces masses of edible, bladder-shaped fruit on vigorous, low maintenance vines that are frost sensitive. The fruit are bulbous at the stem end, and narrow down and to form a slight hook at the opposite end. They are smooth skinned, though occasionally have very soft spines, and are green when young turning ivory as they mature. The leaves are deeply cut and, like other plants in the cucumber/squash family, achocha plants have separate male and female flowers.

A couple of plants should be enough to satisfy the needs of most households. They grow vigorously inside a greenhouse or tunnel; in fact, the aggressively long vines can take over smaller structures. Alternatively, in warmer areas of Britain, Achocha can be grown outdoors, though growth and productivity will be noticeably reduced.

To start a crop, use the same sowing and transplanting dates as for courgettes. Like cucumbers the vines produce tendrils that will hold on to any structure or string that they touch. Once the vines start to elongate, provide netting or strings for them to grow upwards and keep off the ground. Harvesting starts in the summer and goes into the autumn.

For the best eating quality, use only green fruit that are about 55 to 75mm long. When young and small, they have white, tender seeds that are embedded in a matrix of soft, white fibres – at this point the whole fruit, seeds and all, can be eaten. As the fruit grow older and bigger, the seeds get harder and change from white to brown and finally black. At this stage they are attached to a tough central core, and both the core and seeds should be removed before eating the outside flesh.

Approximate number of seeds per pack: 10