Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Carosello Bianco Leccese


Carosello Bianco Leccese Starting out.
After experiencing so much luck with Armenian cucumbers but wanting something tastier I asked around my gardening club (TOG) and found out that there was another kind of Armenian cucumber. From that point on I have been finding out as much as I can about melon cucumbers. Apparently the C. melo species that we think of as muskmelon and honeydew here in North America is often grown for cucumbers in other parts of the world including Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Europe. These melons have some great attributes such as often being burpless, free of bitterness, thin edible skin, fruit very quickly and taking heat better than many regular cucumber varieties.  However, they often have problems of their own, such as powdery mildew and little tolerance for the cold. One variant of these cucumbers is called the Carosello. This cucumber-melon takes many forms in a region of Italy known as Puglia.

Growing Bigger!


All C. melo cucumbers, including the Carosello, can cross with other C. melo species so require being grown in isolation if you desire to save pure seed. The cucumbers can either be grown on the ground or staked. When staking the vines you will need to let the main stem grow out to about 71 inches before pruning (this stem often produces the female fruit). The side vines containing the male flowers can be pruned back the side after the second node of leaves.


Beginning to see Fruit!

There are many different varieties of these cucumbers and some of them go by multiple names based on what the locals know them as. These pictures sent to me are from a gardening friend in Italy. These are the Carosello Bianco Leccese. From what I understand Bianco means white (though the skin is light green) and Leccese means it comes from the district of Lecce in the Southeast of Puglia. Other varieties such as the Barese come from Bari while the Manduria and the Massafra come from the Taranto district of Puglia.


Harvesting the first Bianco Leccese

The inside looks good (=

Many of these cucumbers do have some form of fuzz at the beginning stage of growing and a few keep growing fuzz as they mature. I like to call this the “fuzz factor”. My friend who sent me these pictures said that the fuzz factor on the Bianco Leccese is minimal and can be easily removed before eating. I personally don’t mind fuzz on my cucumber and think it is a neat characteristic. The fur on even the more fuzzy varieties is simply brushed off by hand.

Growing...



...and growing even more.

The fruit of the Bianco Leccese is very delicious when they reach the weight of 150-170 grams or 5-6 ounces though they remain good until about 200 grams or 7 ounces. When picked in their prime, the seeds are small and edible.



Ahh... the beauty of the Carosello.



The Bianco Leccese.


You can learn more about these cucumbers at an Italian Wikipedia site: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carosello_(gastronomia) or translated into English. I hope you have enjoyed some of these pictures of the Carosello Bianco Leccese. I am very grateful for my friend Giuseppe who provided much of the information and pictures for this post.

Update: With the help of my Italian friends I have recently been able to purchase a large amount of Carosello Bianco Leccese seeds. You can purchase them in sample seed packets at Cucumbershop.com.



Il Carosello Bianco Leccese e magnifico!

9 comments:

  1. What cute cucumbers! That is so interesting that the main stem is usually female and the side stems male - it makes sense, though, since you want the main stem feeding the fruit. I learn so much about vegetables from your site!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for the response. The main stem producing a lot of fruit makes for a bunch of fruit in one spot. At least that is my experience with some other cucumber-melons. Its very pretty and fun.

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  2. Those are cute and how different in some ways..here is a bizarre question. Do they smell like regular cucumbers? My husband hates the smell of cukes..I can't even bring them in the house...if they didn't smell like a cuke I have a chance of growing and eating them myself.

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    Replies
    1. Donna -
      Thank you for your post and Question.
      Your husband must have a very acute sense of smell. Try growing some regular Armenian cucumbers in your garden. If he is not put off by the smell of that then you are probably good. Does your husband have problems with the smell of muskmelons (What we call cantaloupes in U.S. stores)? These are the same species (C. melo).

      Delete
  3. In the UK, there is only one type of cucumber sold in the supermarkets. You wouldn't know there are any other varieties unless you're a gardener. A melony cucumber sounds delicious.

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    Replies
    1. I used to live in England. I used to shop at Tesco and ASDA (back between '97 and '99) and I know what you mean. These cucumbers would probably not ship across continents as well as the thick-skinned or Persian cucumbers would. If you ever get a chance to grow them, I'd definitely give it a go, though. I've grown the Mandurian so far and it was delicious and a bit sweet.

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  4. Jay,

    I would like a bit of advice, if that's possible.

    I have a pair of cucumber-melons quite similar to these, but I'm unsure if their the same. I have a link to my post in the GardenWeb Vegetable gardening forum. If u could go glance at the thing & give me a lil bit of insight, that'd be awesome.

    http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/cornucop/msg0810151813614.html?12

    Thank u,
    Andrew

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    Replies
    1. Hi there Andrew,
      Thank you so much for the question. Those are some pretty cool looking cucumbers you have there. Unfortunately they are not cucumber-melons. The leaves, flowers, and fruit are all very much Cucumis sativus (cucumbers) and not Cucumis melo (melons and melon-cucumbers). Many of the American cucumber varieties of the C. sativus are bred for distinct spines - which your picture so beautifully portrays. My experience with many seed companies is that often the pictures on the package don't exactly match what the fruit looks like. If your cucumber variety turns out to be good for you - I would definitely keep growing it.

      On a side note, if you live in a fairly warm climate and would like try growing something very heat resistant and quick I would highly recommend the cucumber-melons.

      Delete
    2. Wait..so they're still Marketmore cukes? Just stunted?? Aaww >_< ...and they are pretty spiny. *sigh*

      The entire packet turned out to be pretty decent crops that produced some nice, dark green cucumbers of decent length. So I'd grow these again. I have these & the Sumter cukes (same brand!) sharing a row and it's been.workin out pretty well this summer, especially w/ the advice I've gotten from the veggie garden forum. I'd totally grow these 2 species again :)

      I finally snipped it off the vine today since it grew no longer than 4" in the past few days. So what should I do w/ this thing? Slice it like I would the others? This rind seems a tad inedible still..lol

      Delete

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