Have you ever tried achokcha or pepper cucumber?
If not, you should definitely fix it!
It’s a delicious fruit with lots of health benefits and you can use it in a variety of recipes.
Come learn more about this crop with us!
What exactly is achokcha?
Acokča ( Cyclanthera pedata ), also known as pepper cucumber, is a plant from the gourd family , which also includes pumpkin, cucumber and watermelon. It is an annual, climbing herb, native to South and Central America. Its pod-like fruits are egg-shaped , 10 to 15 cm long.
This pod is dark green with a smooth skin when young and matures to a light yellow-green shade. Beneath the surface, the flesh is light green to white with a spongy and crunchy consistency.
Over time, the pulp begins to deepen and develop a cotton-like texture that surrounds several black seeds in the center of the pod. The seeds are edible and soft when young, turning hard, black and inedible over time.
Raw achokcha is crunchy and tastes similar to cucumbers and sweet peppers. When cooked, it softens and develops a taste reminiscent of green pepper.
Achokcha was first documented through pottery illustrations that were recovered from the Moche civilization, dated to 800 AD . It was also believed that the Incas cultivated it for food and medicine.
Health benefits of eating achokcha
Acokča has many health benefits such as:
- lowers blood pressure
- helps with weight loss
- lowers blood sugar
- balances triglycerides and lipids in menopausal women
- lowers cholesterol levels
Traditional use of pepper and cucumber
- Pepper cucumber seed tea can be used as a remedy for high blood pressure.
- Other parts of the plant can be used to treat gastrointestinal problems , hypertension, angina, circulatory problems, arteriosclerosis and diabetes.
- Achokcha is boiled in milk and gargled to treat angina.
- Fruit juice is recommended as a treatment for high blood cholesterol.
- The fruits and/or leaves are boiled in olive oil and used externally as a local analgesic.
- The leaves are considered hypoglycemic and are made into a decoction to treat diabetes.
- The roots are used to clean the teeth.
- A strong powder can be prepared by crushing the dried seeds and used in doses of around one gram to eliminate intestinal parasites.
- Raw juice is used for ear infections as an external poultice.
Nutritional values of achoccha
In the following table, look at the nutritional values of fresh achoccha in 100 grams.
|Nutritional values|| Pepper cucumber|
Vitamins and minerals in bell peppers
Also look at the amount of minerals and vitamins that 100 grams of fresh achoccha contains.
|Vitamins and minerals|| Pepper cucumber|
|Vitamin B1||0.04 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.04 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.3 mg|
|Vitamin C||14 mg|
Where to buy achoccha and how to store it?
You just can’t find achokča in the supermarket here. It can sometimes be found at farmers markets, but it’s best to grow it in your garden if you have the option.
Achoccha is best consumed immediately, but if you have any left over, you can pickle or dehydrate it. Store freshly harvested bell pepper in a cool place, preferably in the refrigerator. Cover it with food foil or a microtene bag. This will last you approximately two weeks. It can also be frozen as follows: cut it in half, remove the seeds and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Put it in the freezer. After freezing the achoccha, put it in a plastic bag, close it and you can put it back in the freezer like this.
How to use paprika in the kitchen?
- You can eat achokča raw, but also heat-treated in various recipes. It can be sautéed, fried, baked and stewed.
- Young achokcha are eaten raw, while older ones are cooked. The young, unripe fruits have a similar flavor to cucumbers , although they are not crunchy.
- You can eat it raw straight out of your hand, similar to a cucumber, or cut it up and dip it into dips , or make a smoothie or juice out of it.
- It can also be wrapped and fried , and it can also be used as a substitute for green pepper in various recipes .
- Achokča is also preserved or pickled similarly to cucumbers. It can be pickled alone or in combination with other vegetables.
- In addition to the fruit , the leaves and young shoots are also edible and can also be lightly roasted or incorporated into salads for added nutrients.
- Cucumber goes well with meats such as beef, pork, poultry and fish , eggs, red onions, parsley, cumin, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, peanuts, raisins and black olives.
- It is quite hollow, so it is often stuffed before cooking (after removing the seeds), similar to eggplant or peppers. A popular filling is rice with meat and/or cheese, mushrooms or various vegetable mixtures.
- When you remove the seeds, you can add it to soups and various stews .
- You can also make a great chutney from it or add it to a salad with dressing or a sweet and sour dressing, which will bring out its rich and juicy taste.
Try our inspiring recipes with pepper and cucumber in 8 different variations! Try it pickled, stuffed or in a salad.
Cultivation of achoccha
The plant is not known in the wild, but is native to many parts of Central and South America and the Andes . It is found in the Caribbean Islands, in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Mexico. It is also very popular in Northeast India, Bhutan and Nepal.
However, we can also cultivate it here. First, we pre-grow achokcha in March from seeds in a foil plant or on a windowsill, similar to peppers or cucumbers. We then plant them outside when all danger of frost has passed. Heat and humidity are what Acochkas like. Although it is more resistant to frost than cucumber, it still does not tolerate frost. Acokča also needs a support , preferably a net for cucumbers, on which it can hang and grow. Don’t forget to water it regularly and supply nutrients , otherwise it won’t produce well. Under suitable conditions, your achokcha will bear fruit until late autumn.
Harvest the fruits when they grow to a length of about 20 cm and are hollow inside . Alternatively, pick them earlier when they are only 4 cm long – according to foodies, they are tastiest at that time.