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The wild cucumber (bot.: Cucumis melo ssp. agrestis), also known as smooth cucumber, ulcardo melon or native gooseberry, is a wild ancestor of the cultivated sweet melon Cucumis melo. It is native to Asia and Australia Wild cucumbers grow in all Australian states except Victoria and Tasmania and has long been a well-known bushfood for aborigine, especially those living in the outback. Australian wild cucumber grow as creeping shrubs after good rain. The plants are sensitive to frost and need a lot of sun and water. Smooth cucumber fruits are 4 to 5 cm long and thick, often they look almost round. Its skin is slightly lighter in colour than that of cultivated cucumbers. While the skin tastes very bitter, the flesh is sweet and refreshing and reminds of cucumbers and mint. Wild cucumbers are barely grown commercially, in tropical and subtropical regions it is easy to grow them in the garden though.

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Use and preparation of wild cucumbers

Traditionally Australian aborigine wrapped wild cucumbers in bark, steamed them and ate them hot. Nowadays they are mostly either cooked or eaten raw. When eaten raw, wild cucumbers should be peeled. If the skin is used, sugar should be added to moderate the bitter taste. Whole fruits with skin may be used in relish and salsa or other sauces that contain vinegar and sugar.

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