I absolutely adore peppers and they feature in plenty of our regular homecooked meals however I’ve never really had that much success growing them myself. They need a long growing season, plenty of heat and they take up all too precious space in the greenhouse. On the other hand; Achocha is astoundingly easy to grow, will thrive outside, is extremely prolific and when cooked tastes exactly like green peppers!
What is it?
Achocha (Cyclanthera Pedata) is cucurbit orginating from the Andes which is widely grown in many parts of South Amercia. It is a very easy to grow and prolific climbing vine which produces an abundance of edible green fruits.
How do you grow it?
I’ve tended to treat Achocha as I would outdoor Cucumbers and start the seeds off indoors in early April before planting them out around mid-May. In my experience, the vines can be rampant and so definitely need something to climb up and plenty of space to spread out. The most commonly available variety ‘Fat Baby’ produces an abundance of small green fruits throughout the Summer which are covered in soft rubbery spikes. Aside from needing the occasional watering, Achocha seem fairly tolerant and untroubled by pests and diseases.
What does it taste like?
When raw, the green fruits are crunchy, watery and have a faint cucumber-like taste. When cooked, they’re much less watery and have a taste that is pretty much identical to green peppers. To be honest, they’re nothing special raw and so I only tend to eat them cooked.
What can you do with it?
Absolutely loads, anything that you would use peppers for you can use Achocha for instead. They’re lovely fried, roasted, sautéed and baked. In particular, I like them in curries, lightly roasted and as a pizza topping. I’ve never tried growing them but there are a number of giant Achocha varieities which can also be used for stuffing.
Where can you get seeds from?
RealSeeds stock both the small spiny ‘Fat Baby’ variety and the larger smooth ‘Giant Bolivian’ variety.