I missed it two weeks ago, but Sainsbury, the largest grocery chain in the United Kingdom, premiered heart-shaped cucumbers for Valentine’s Day customers.
The grocery giant announced it plans to start selling star-shaped cukes this summer. A half of one sells for $1.66, which is equivalent to one English pound of currency. Both shapes have been sold in Japan for more than four years and soon will be available in U.S. stores.
My first question was, “Is this more genetic tinkering?” Upon, researching, I found it’s not.
The cucumbers are grown about ten days in clear plastic molds to shape them. Molds are slipped on cucumbers when they are about one inch long. It’s best to trellis vines so that rapidly-developing fruits grow straight.
My next question was, “Can I get my engineer husband to make some molds for me?” You can buy them from Japanese sources, but they are $85 each, plus $19 shipping! That’s a bit steep.
Fruits and vegetables have been grown in molds such as bottles and boxes for centuries to alter their shapes. Renaissance wine makers put bottles over tiny, developing pears so that the pear grows in the bottle. Perry or pear wine filled the rest of the bottle, and it was corked and aged for several months. The resulting drink was bubbly and mild and a favorite of British and French ladies.
I’ll let you know if husband makes any or if I find a more reasonably-priced source for heart and star cucumber molds. I think they’d be a wonderful addition to salads and relish trays to celebrate July 4th this year.
What do you think about these new cucumbers? Do you plan on growing any new garden varieties this year? Please share your thoughts, questions, and comments below!
Doreen Howard has written for The Old Farmer's Almanac All-Seasons Garden Guide for 15 years and is the former garden editor at Woman’s Day as well as a photographer. She has grown more than 300 varieties of heirloom edibles and flowers in the last two decades.
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Look for Doreen's newest book, Heirloom Flavor: Yesterday's Best-Tasting Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs for Today's Cook. Find in stores everywhere including Walmart and on the Web including amazon.com.