Cucumis melo var. flexuosus
Improvement status: Landrace
Seeds per packet: ~25
Germination tested 12/2021: 84%
Life cycle: Annual
EFN INTRODUCTION. NEW FOR 2022. Fakous is a beloved Palestinian heirloom melon that grows and is treated just like a cucumber — similar to other melons known as "Armenian Cucumbers" in English, "Kakadee" in Hindi, or "Carosello" in Italian. "Fakous" is the Arabic word for this kind of melon, and it is used to describe a range of different forms. This Palestinian variety has more in common with some of the Italian types than the Armenian types — the fruits are fuzzy when young, ribbed rather than irregularly textured, and more comparable in size to standard cucumbers. The flavor is mild — even milder than a cucumber (I don't much like cucumbers until they become pickles, but I actually enjoy eating raw fakous) — and the texture is crunchy. They are never bitter, and the skin is thin and tasty, so it is seldom if ever peeled off. Palestinians commonly eat these raw, but also pickle them.
One favorite recipe is very simple and involves lacto-fermentation: start by scrubbing fuzzy young fakous with your hands to remove the fuzz, make a single slice down one side (but not all the way through — you're just making sure the brine gets in), wrap each one in a fresh grape leaf, then submerge in salty brine and let them sit out for three or four days (loosely covered so they don't explode). And that's it! They're ready to eat right then, or they can be kept in the fridge for months (but they probably don't even need the fridge if you're going to eat them within a few weeks). If you can't find fresh grape leaves — though that shouldn't be hard because wild grapes grow all across this continent — you can use the type sold in jars.
We were introduced to this special cucumber-melon by our dear friend Vivien Sansour of the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library. We've since shared them with Palestinian-American friends who told us it was like we were reuniting them with a lost family member. By offering these seeds, we're hopeful that many more Palestinian-Americans and other people whose ancestors loved fakous will get the chance to experience it once again.
50% of the price of every packet sold will be donated to the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library.
GROWING TIPS: Start in flats or direct-seed at the same time you would cucumbers, a few weeks after last frost. Harvest when about 6 - 10 inches, before they reach full size. Fully ripe fruit don't last very long, so keep an eye out to ensure they don't rot if you want to save seeds.