In her home country Peru, she is highly valued for her healing and beneficial effects: The Inca cucumber is a true medicinal vegetable. The plant is fairly new in Europe and has been cultivated for a few years, but is enjoying increasing popularity. We’ll tell you why it’s so healthy and what ingredients make it a true superfood, and give you some Inca cucumber recipes to surprise your family and friends with.
Inca cucumber recipes and uses in their native Peru
The country of origin of the Inca cucumber (Latin Cyclanthera pedata, Eng. Caigua) is Peru, South America. The plant belongs to the cucurbit family. Although it is related to the cucumber, it is a genus of its own. The climber is annual, reaches a height of 5 meters and has large, five-fingered leaves with pointed lobes. The leaves as well as the sprouts and the fruits are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. The edible fruits are somewhat similar to green bell peppers and have large, black seeds that are used in various medicinal products.
In your home country, the Inca cucumber has been cultivated for many years and used both as a food and as a medicinal plant. The healing properties attributed to Peruvian vegetables have now been proven by numerous studies.
The Inca cucumber is also interesting for European chefs because it is ideal for gourmet dishes. In terms of taste, it goes perfectly with minced meat, seafood, sweet potatoes and can also be marinated if desired. Since the plant tolerates sub-zero temperatures and thrives without problems in wind and rain, it can also be planted in Germany. The vegetables also score with a very long harvest time: they can be harvested until December.
Inca cucumber healing properties and use in natural medicine
As already mentioned, the Inca cucumber is said to have a healing effect. Scientific studies have proven its positive effect on the human body. The plant is rich in antioxidant flavonoids, alkaloids, calcium, vitamin A and thiamine. Regular consumption is also said to strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of cancer.
In their homeland of Peru, the Inca cucumber has another use. Since it lowers the cholesterol level and stimulates the metabolism, the medicinal plant prevents heart attacks. The tea made from the ground seeds is found to be highly effective against high blood pressure.
The Caigua effect on digestion is also very positive. It can help with digestive problems such as gas, bloating, and abdominal pain.
In combination with another South American herb, hercampuri, the Inca cucumber can help with weight loss.
The different parts of the plant can also alleviate other complaints. For example, the leaves are used to prepare anti-inflammatory ointments. The fruits are processed into a drinking cure that promotes detoxification and accelerates the removal of waste products from the blood vessels via the kidneys. The ground seeds should also prove to be effective against intestinal parasites.
Prepare home remedies from Inca cucumber
Here are several recipes for home remedies with inca cucumber:
1. Tea off Prepare Inca cucumber: Wash 2-3 fruits, cut in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Rinse the seeds under running water, then place them on paper towels and let them dry at room temperature. Grind the dried seeds and store in an airtight mason jar in a cool and dark place. To prepare a cup of tea, pour 1 g of seeds into a tea strainer, bring the water to the boil and pour it over the tea. Let the tea steep for 4 to 6 minutes, but not longer than 8 minutes. Drink a cup of tea once a day for no more than 10 days.
2. Ointment with inca cucumber Do it yourself: Rinse a handful of Inca cucumber leaves under running water, pat dry and then puree with olive oil. Put the ointment in a dark airtight container and store in a dry and cold place for 10 days. Apply a thin layer of cream to abrasions, do not cover.
3. Inca cucumber recipe For drinking cure for detoxification: Put a handful of leaves and 2 medium-sized fruits (pitted and roughly cut) with 4 tablespoons of coconut milk, a green apple, a banana, a pinch of mint, 2-3 drops of lime juice and 200 ml of still mineral water in the blender and puree . Drink a cup of the drinking regimen every morning for a week.
Inca cucumber recipes: this is how you can enjoy the delicious vegetables
The taste of the raw fruits of the Inca cucumber is similar to that of the cucumber. In contrast to this, however, they contain significantly less water. There are many ways to prepare it: Depending on their size, the cucumbers are boiled, grilled, gratinated or steamed. When pickled, they taste more like artichokes than cucumbers.
The raw fruits do not have a long shelf life and should be processed within ten days, even if stored correctly. Below we offer you several ideas on how to prepare Inca cucumber.
Stuffed Inca cucumbers with minced meat
The first recipe is for stuffed Inca cucumbers with minced meat. Below is the basic recipe. The dish can be varied with other seasonal vegetables as desired.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
- 20 Inca cucumbers, medium-sized
- 80 g rice
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 teaspoon butter
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 2 spring onions, finely chopped
- 140 g minced meat
- 100 ml vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons of breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 5 peppers, red or yellow, roughly chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Wash the Inca cucumbers, pat dry and cut in half. Remove the black seeds with a spoon and rinse the cucumbers again under running water.
2. Put butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and fry the spring onions until translucent. Add the rice and cook until translucent, stirring constantly.
3. Put the minced meat, spring onions, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of rice and the egg in a large bowl, season, season with salt and knead well. Pour the minced meat mixture into the inca cucumber halves.
4. Put the peppers and the carrots in a baking dish, pour the vegetable stock over them and place the filled Inca cucumbers on top.
5. Let the dish cook for about 30 minutes at 180 degrees with a fan.
You can vary the recipe as much as you want by making a tomato sauce or filling the Inca cucumbers with peas, minced chicken, carrots, onions and tomato paste. Instead of rice, you can bake potatoes as a garnish.
Inca cucumber vegetarian recipes
The next recipe is vegetarian, super easy, filling and delicious. Similar to the way bell peppers are stuffed with lentils, you can also stuff inca cucumbers with lentils. You need the following ingredients for 4 servings:
- 1/2 can (approx. 200 g drained weight) lentils
- 1 carrot, medium-sized, peeled and diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed
- 20 large Incan cucumbers
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tomato
- 2 chili peppers
- Spice mix to taste
This is how the vegetarian dish is prepared:
1. Rinse the lentils well under running water, place in a fine sieve and drain.
2. Chop the tomato and place in a small bowl with the carrot and garlic cloves, season with salt and stir well.
3. Put the olive oil in a pan and heat it up, sauté the lentils briefly and then add the tomato mix. Simmer the filling over medium heat until the liquid evaporates.
4. In the meantime, wash the Inca cucumbers, clean them, cut them in half and remove the seeds.
5. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
6. Place the inca cucumbers in a baking dish, fill with the tomato and lentil mix and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Inca cucumber cooking: recipe with seafood
You can also cook the Inca cucumbers. Simply wash, cut in half, remove the black seeds and cook in salted water for about 10 minutes until they soften. Then you can garnish or fill the Inca cucumbers as you like. Here are the necessary ingredients for Inca cucumber with shrimp:
- 20 Incan cucumbers
- 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
- 1 carrot, diced
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium-sized zucchini, peeled and chopped
- Prawns, cleaned and deveined
- Spices: basil, parsley, pepper, bay leaves,
1. Season the prawns with pepper, salt and mix with the carrot, zucchini and cloves of garlic.
2. Put the olive oil in a deep pan and heat it up and fry the prawns and vegetables over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, until the carrots are soft and the prawns are cooked. Take the pan off the stove.
3. Add the tomatoes to the prawns and stir everything well. Let the filling simmer over low heat for 4-5 minutes.
4. In the meantime, wash the Inca cucumber, cut in half, core and cook in salted water for about 10 minutes.
5. Take the inca cucumbers out of the pot and fill them with the tomato and shrimp mix.
By the way, there is another variant for a delicious starter with inca cucumber. Wash, core and halve the Inca cucumbers. Steam asparagus. Put the tuna, cherry tomatoes, capers and asparagus in a bowl and stir together. Then pour the tuna mix into the raw Inca cucumbers. Serve the starter cold.
Planting Inca cucumbers
The Inca cucumber is an easy-care and weather-resistant annual plant. If you enjoy eating its fruits, then it is worth planting them in your own garden as well. The perfect time to sow is mid-April. In May after the ice saints, you can transplant it to the vegetable patch. Since it is a climbing plant, the first thing you should do is find the right location. A sheltered and sunny place in the garden is best. Do not forget that the plant needs a suitable climbing aid. Since it quickly forms new shoots, you should fix them regularly to the trellis. Especially after transplanting you can provide the soil with slow release fertilizer, then apply liquid fertilizer every two weeks. The climbing plant needs a lot of water. So always water when the top layer of soil dries out.
With proper care, it forms the first fruits in late summer or early autumn. The harvest starts from September and can last until November. Incidentally, the plant can tolerate frost and cold and does not need any special frost protection in autumn.