Learn About Crystal Apple Cucumber History

By Bonnie Grant | July 7, 2016
by Bonnie Grant
July 7, 2016

Crystal apple cucumber plants sound like mystical fruits that were grown for the fun of it by Mother Nature. The name alone is evocative of fairy godmother meddling and magical pumpkin to coach sleight of hand. Their chubby round form and entrancing flavor aside, crystal apple cucumbers are a historical treasure that can be grown today from seed on many heirloom sites. Try growing crystal apple cucumbers in your garden and bring some of that enchanted charm to your dinner table.

Crystal Apple Cucumber History

Cucumbers are one of the juiciest, low calorie, health enhancing vegetables around. Actually, cucumbers aren’t technically veggies at all but fruits and closely related to melons. Heirloom cucumbers are thought to have originated in India as wild fruits with distinct bitter flavoring but the same extra hydrating properties as our modern cultivars. Most of the bitterness was bred out of the fruit to make a more palatable food source by the 7th century BC.

Cucumbers migrated from India into China and Japan where some of the sweeter varieties were developed. Early Roman and Greek farmers were instrumental in increasing the forms and varieties as well as methods of preserving and using the fruits. In the Victorian era, the fruit was a popular garden choice for its excellent pickling results and fresh juicy taste.

Crystal apple cucumber plants were introduced to North America by the Arthur Yates and Company of Sydney, Australia. The variety soon fell out of fashion and became almost extinct in American cultivation by the middle of the 20th century.

Fortunately for those of us who like exciting diversity and seek to safeguard our historical food sources, these small cucumbers can still be grown from seed that is optimistically offered by numerous sources – such as seed saver exchanges and heirloom seed stores. You may have to look a bit to find the seeds, but they are well worth adding to your garden.

About Crystal Apple Heirloom Cucumbers

Crystal apple is a 3-inch oval to round fruit. Its charisma lays in its adorable size combined with a sweet, mild, tender flavor and texture. This appealing fruit will win over any larger cucumber enthusiast with its juicy flesh and thin, edible skin. The fruits are creamy white with light green stripes, but deepen to light yellow if allowed to ripen further on the vine.

The best flavor comes from the lighter ivory hued fruits. These cukes are so sweet and tender they are eaten out of hand just like an apple (a possible reference to its name), but the flavor can better be evoked by a summer rainy day on freshly mown grass. They also take well to pickling and brining, brighten up any spicy dish and make a beautiful tzatziki.

Growing Crystal Apple Cucumbers

You can start these little beauties in April, either indoors in cooler climes or outside in prepared garden beds. In areas without frost, you can seed in midsummer for a fall harvest. Sow seed an inch deep and 12 inches apart in a full sun location. Spread organic mulch around young plants to prevent weeds and conserve moisture. The vines are remarkably resistant to disease but they require regular water to develop the moisture rich fruits.

Crystal apple vines produce fruit throughout the season with regular picking. Harvest fruits 15 to 18 days after pollination when they are palm sized. Larger fruits will develop a bitter taste and soft flesh. You can expect fruits 70 days after seeding.

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  • Lydia
    Comment added January 5, 2021Reply

    They must be pollinated!

    • RICHARD JOHNSON
      Comment added June 4, 2021Reply

      Lydia

      How to pollinate ??

      I have manged to successfully grow the plant, but they are small yellow leaves with very little, if any fruit.
      Is this a pollination issue?

      Many thanks for any info related to successfully growing the cucumbers

      Richard

  • Adam Fitzgerald
    Comment added August 8, 2020Reply

    I have got one of these growing but the fruit didn’t seem to grow, it starts to fruit but the only grow to a bean size then turn yellow and die. Can someone help with advice on this please!

  • Geoff Weston
    Comment added August 2, 2020Reply

    Tried them for the first time this year (2020). Lots of female flowers but most turned yellow even before the flower opened. Then they fell off. The successful ones tasted good to us, picked at large golf ball size, is will try them again. Any tips to stop so many falling off?

  • Denise
    Comment added July 30, 2020Reply

    I have harvested my first one today and the children said it tasted just like a cucumber. The only thing is that it is hollow in the middle. I’m not sure if this is due to a lack of water

  • Pieter Russouw
    Comment added September 24, 2019Reply

    Question, must they be grown on a trellis or along the ground

  • Heather Isaac
    Comment added August 24, 2019Reply

    My apple cucumber leaves are turning yellow and dying, its still in flower but i cannot see any cucumbers what am i doing wrong.

  • Stewart forsyth
    Comment added August 31, 2018Reply

    I also grew them this year very sweet and tasty fed on tomato feed but watch the little spikes on the outside ,I have saved the seed and hope to grow more next year ,I also grow Scotland yellow tomato es ,you can't get those from the shops

  • Dave R
    Comment added July 30, 2018Reply

    I grew some this year [2018] and they are the most foulest things I have ever tasted. I tried on the size of a cricket ball and it was horrendous, so I tried a smaller on like a ping pong ball, again evil tasting [like paracetamol] I will not be growing the horrid things again.

  • Stewart
    Comment added July 17, 2018Reply

    I have grown them in a greenhouse with a autopot systems fed with liquid tomato feed ,had the first one off today when it was the size of a small apple ,very sweet and refreshing and very unusual ,I like to grow things you cannot buy in the shops ,10 out of 10 for this one

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