The Cottage Smallholder

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Achocha: an easy alternative to growing sweet green peppers


Photo: Bowl of achocha

Photo: Bowl of achocha

I tried growing peppers yet again this year in the greenhouse. Some were attacked by a mystery pest that ate into the fruit just at stem level. The fruit gradually rotted. But one plant was not attacked and we ended the season with sweet peppers – just four but these are the first peppers that I’ve ever managed to grow.

I also planted achocha this year. I hadn’t heard of these until I spotted them on The Real Seed website. Who could resist the name “Fat Baby” and the photo of just a hand poking out from the undergrowth of achocha. Scroll down the page to see what I mean.

Achocha originated in South America and romp away producing lots and lots of these small, spiked green fruit. Raw, they taste like a cucumber crossed with sweet green pepper. Cooked they taste just like green peppers. The spines indicate a touch of hedgehog in their ancestry – only joking – but are soft and strangely palatable.

Mine didn’t flourish like the ones in the photo but were bunged into a very large pot in a sunny SW spot in front of the cottage. They were watered haphazardly and fed just once over the summer but the four plants have produced hundreds of these cute green hedgehog shaped fruits for the past three months. They measure between 1.5 inches/4 cm to 2 inches/5 cm.

Next year I will be growing more achocha in a border trained along a fence or trellis as they have proved to be so much more productive than my sweet pepper plants.  With a bit of luck and TLC we will be able to be self sufficient in sweet green pepper flavoured fruit. This lot are going in the dehydrator (sliced) for winter casseroles and risottos.

If you have problems growing sweet peppers to keep you going throughout the year (with freezing and dehydrating at the end of the summer) these could be the answer for you too.

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  1. Kenny Ritchie

    Thanks Emma.

    looking forward to giving them a try.

  2. They’re cucurbits – same family as melons and cucumbers.

  3. Kenny Ritchie

    Are they from the pepper family. They look a little like okra from the mallow family. If these tasste like pepper and cucmber then certainly better than okra.

  4. I look forward to seeing achocha appearing in your future recipes 😀

  5. This plant sounds really interesting and a lot more likely to succeed than my pepper growing efforts! I’ll definitely try some next year.

  6. I have some Cyclanthera pedata (Lady’s slipper achocha) seeds to spare Fiona, if you would like to try them 🙂

  7. Hi Fiona
    I grew some Achocha this year, plants given to me by a Freecycler. They did really well and I have had a great little harvest from them. I grew them in a large tub up a wigwam in a sunny spot. I added some to a ‘spag bog’ not telling the teenagers and they all ate it up so they can’t be that bad

  8. Ali at Very Berry

    How interesting the Achocha looks.. I wonder if it would convince my boys to eat a green vegetable??? I love the Real Seed people – we had brilliant tomato seeds (Amish Paste for sauce) from them this year, among others.

  9. Fiona, I have similar problems with mystery pests in Peppers- the really annoying one is the beast that bores a little hole in the peppers ( every single one) and lays eggs. As the pepper ripens these grow into hungry grubs who are not housetrained. The pepper either ROTS ( mostly, damn) or ripens beautifully ( hurrah!)…you pick it, you cut it open,you gasp in horror and chuck it on the compost heap as fast as you can.

  10. Rhizowen

    It’s certainly a vigourous and forgiving plant and grows extremely well outdoors, something which peppers frequently fail to do in our climate. You might like to try the Cyclanthera pedata at some stage. Fruits are sometimes much larger than the Fat Babies and can be stuffed, but you need the right variety. The only problem I’ve had with it (apart from seeding everywhere) is cucumber mosaic virus.

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