With a name about as bougie as you can get, the Crystal Apple cucumber is surprisingly practical. It’s delicious, easy to grow, healthy, and even useful in the home.
Keep reading to learn about this fascinating fruit.
What is a Crystal Apple Cucumber?
Cucumis sativus is an heirloom cucumber with its roots (pun intended) in many different places.
Cucumbers, in general, are said to have their origins in India, but the ancient Greeks and Romans also knew about them. The Crystal Apple variety was popular in the Victorian era due to its fresh taste and easy growing.
The Crystal Apple made its way across the pond with the Arthur Yates Seed House of Sydney, Australia, in the 1930s and rose in popularity. Unfortunately, it fell out of fashion and almost became extinct in America by the mid-20th century. But, thanks to seed savers, this heirloom cucumber has bounced back and found a new niche with home gardeners.
This cucumber, like other varieties, grows on a vine and can reach 48 inches long. The plant produces bright yellow, star-shaped flowers, which develop into a small round or oval fruit about three inches in diameter.
Like the True Lemon Cucumber, the fruit has soft, white, or ivory skin with tiny black spines that you can easily rub off. The flesh is also pale with clusters of seeds.
It’s a wonder the Crystal Apple cucumber isn’t more popular, given its delightful flavor. Delicate, sweet, and citrusy without the bitter aftertaste some varieties have. Its texture is tender yet crisp.
Like most cukes, the Crystal Apple is chocked full of health benefits. It’s low in calories, fat, and sugar but high in other nutrients like vitamins C and K, Magnesium, Potassium, and Manganese.
It also contains antioxidants like beta-carotene and flavonoids, which protect cells from chronic disease and help curb inflammation.
If that hasn’t already convinced you, they promote hydration. Compared to watermelon (a fruit with ‘water’ in the name), which is 92% water, cucumbers are a whopping 96% water.
So yes, you can eat part of your water intake.
Cucumbers are a low FODMAP food, high in salicylates, and contain a fair amount of lectins. These can cause intolerance symptoms. In the gastrointestinal system, especially. But also itching and swelling in and around the mouth.
Most symptoms are mild, though, and a true allergy is rare. When present, it’s not cucumber specific but rather a reaction to Profilin (a type of plant protein) that is present in melons, bananas, tomatoes, and citrus fruits.
Preparation and Eating
This cucumber can be used as a replacement in recipes for more common varieties, like English cucumbers and gherkins.
Use it Raw
This is the obvious choice: chopped and tossed in a salad, diced for tzatziki, or pureed for gazpacho. Crystal Apple cucumbers pair well with apples, pears, and citrus fruit and can be frozen into popsicles.
You can even use them in refreshing cocktails like this recipe for the Black Angel, a gin-based drink for those who want something bittersweet and citrusy.
Picked while small, these gems can be pickled whole like gherkins or included in piccalilli and any atchar. If pickling sounds intimidating, try this Quick Pickling recipe to see if you like the taste before committing to something more complicated.
Good For Kids
As a food with a mild taste, you can easily hide it in your children’s food. For example, toss some into their favorite smoothie or add a few thin slices to a cheese sandwich.
If you have a little one who isn’t that fussy, why not play up the fun by making Sandwich Sushi? Or you could put it with other fruits and vegetables from the same color family and have them guess what they’re tasting. How fun will it be to see their faces when you tell them about the ‘fancy’ cucumber?
Cucumbers are delicious; we all know this. But did you know they can be used outside the kitchen, too? Here are some suggestions for using them around your home or as home remedies.
- Dip it in aloe vera to soothe sunburn.
- Wipe a slice over your bathroom mirror to prevent fog.
- Treat stinky breath by holding a slice between your tongue and palate for 90 seconds.
- Rub it on taps and shoes to make them shine.
- Use the outer peel to clean crayons off the walls.
Where To Buy
Unfortunately, this cucumber is not available in supermarkets like more common varieties.
However, the seeds aren’t challenging to find. You can purchase Crystal Apple cucumber seeds online from one of our favorite seed retailers, True Leaf Market. Order yours today and grow Crystal Apples in your garden this year.
How To Grow Crystal Apple Cucumbers
Seed Sowing Times
Recommended sowing time for cucumber seeds is after the last frost. If you start seeds indoors, you could sow 2-4 weeks before the last frost. Warmer climates with no frost allow for mid-summer sowing.
For details on starting your cucumbers from seed, read our blog post, How to Plant Cucumbers.
You should plant the seeds an inch deep and 12 inches apart in rich, moist soil with a pH above 6.5.
Since this is a vining cucumber, you’ll get the best results by growing them on a trellis or other support structure. Our blog post, How to Grow Cucumbers Vertically, will give you great ideas for your garden.
Like most cucumbers, the Crystal Apple Cucumber requires consistent moisture but is also prone to molds and mildew in humid climates. So check them regularly if you live in an area that experiences sultry summer weather.
The plant will reach maturity four to six weeks after sowing and produce fruit throughout the season until the next frost.
We’ve just given you the summary here. For a deep dive, check out our Complete Guide to Growing Cucumbers. You’ll find everything you need to know there.
Pick Crystal Apple cucumbers early and often to encourage the growth of new fruits and preserve the delicious taste. Larger fruits tend to be seedy and have less flesh.
A Final Word on Crystal Apple Cucumbers
As you can see, the Crystal Apple cucumber is a lovely fruit and is worth trying in your kitchen and garden. It’s an easy-to-grow cucumber for new and seasoned gardeners.
Growing it vertically will make harvesting easier – remember to remove those spines if you’re going to eat it straight off the vine.
Ready to continue discovering these funky fresh vegetables? Then learn more about cucumbers by checking out my planting guides, recipe tips, brand suggestions, and more!