Of the six types of cukes I grew this past summer, this was one of my favorites. Though it’s called an Armenian cucumber, botanically it’s a muskmelon (Cucumis melo, more commonly known in the form of a cantaloupe) and the species is closely related to the cucumber.
Metki Painted Serpent is an heirloom that was first introduced to Italy from Armenia as early as the 1400s. The variety has very subtle dark and light green striae, with soft and slightly fuzzy skin that never needs to be peeled.
True to its melon origin, Metki Painted Serpent is sweeter than most cucumbers but also a tad crisper. The fruits grow up to 3 feet long if left to freely climb a trellis (earning them a snazzy “snake melon” moniker), but I always pick mine when they’re a foot long and at their freshest.
Now, I never think to cook a cucumber, but because I view this more as a melon, I’ve had it roasted, sauteed, and even simmered in soup. (It tastes just like a squash.) If you find cooking a “cucumber” to be bizarre, put it in a salad or brine it in a pickle — it’s just as good as any ol’ cucumber!
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