Hairy Cucumber, Bari

Cuc Bari 20090629

This wonderful fuzzy little ‘cucumber’ was one of the delights of my kitchen garden this summer. A smallish plump light green fruit with a furry or ‘downy’ skin and sweetish crisp flesh. The natural habit of the plants is to trail but it can be tied to grow over a climbing frame. Quick to crop, in around 60 days, they are also prolific and it seems the more they are picked the more cucumbers the plants produce. Most importantly they are absolutely delicious and do not get bitter even in extreme dry heat. I don’t think a meal has gone by, since they started cropping in early June, without them. Bari cucumbers are actually smooth skinned, the fur just rubs off.

Kate from Hills & Plains & Seedsavers in Australia brought the seeds over with her last Autumn on her French visit and entrusted me with some of these heirloom beauties. Kate came by the seeds because the Radogna family of Bari, who had been growing this cucumber in Italy as Caroselli Baresi, brought seeds with them to Australia.  One of the family, Silvio, who has been growing them for over 30 years in Australia passed some of the seeds on to Kate because he wanted to make sure that the seeds would be kept going and the cucumbers would be grown by other gardeners. Read Kate’s story of her encounter with Silvio and his cucumbers

I was so impressed with these heirloom cucs that I started doing some research to find out more about them and discovered a whole family I didn’t know about, the Italian carosello type, a smallish fruit with a fuzzy skin and crisp flesh grown and eaten as a cucumber but botanically a melon, Cucumis Melo.  If these Bari cucumbers are Italian carosello type, Cucumis Melo,  I do have a slight problem with my seed saving plan this year because Melons cross easily. I had planned to save the seeds of these Bari cucumbers not least because I promised Kate, so I planted only one cucumber, the Bari, in the potager believing it to be Cucumis Sativus but I have also planted melons in the potager, so if the bari is a melon they could cross. The melons are not yet flowering so I have time to pull them out to make sure the Bari do not cross with them. I’d gladly sacrifice melons for these little beauties. I have planted Armenian Cucumber in the polytunnel which is Cucumis Melo so I can only hope that the barrier of the polytunnel will have cut down the chances of crossing sufficiently not to endanger the Bari seed. If anyone can confirm which botanical family these Bari cucumbers belong to I’d much appreciate it.

Flower Hairy Cucumber (Bari)

Flower Hairy Cucumber (Bari)

The fur just rubs off in you hand or under the tap.

The fur just rubs off in you hand or under the tap.

Cuc-Bari20090810 (1)

Left to grow on for seed

As they grow and get larger the characteristics become more melon-like, the flesh, although not sweet has a more melon like flavour, the fur is thinner or possibly the same amount of fur shared over a larger area.

Research
Research paper  A published paper on the varieties of Cucumber Melons still growing in Southern Italy. There are a number of ‘cucumbers’ from Southern Italy and from Puglia in particular that appear similar in that they have fury skin and are small.

I have found similar cucumber melons at a number of seed sources as follows.
Cucumber Barese from Grow Italian Described as: Light green, oval cucumber/melon from bari. White flesh. 4 inches long. Mild tasting and very productive. 70 or so days. Typical ‘downy’ skin of this type.

Cucumber Carosello Barese from Mail Order Garden Heirloom Cucumber Barese Seeds from Bari produce a Light green oval melon type cucumber with White flesh mild taste and very productive.

Carosello Barese from Gourmet Seeds Described as: Extremely tasty and very mild heirloom. Texture and flavor are very nice. Similar to Mandurian round cucumbers. Has no spines as a normal cucumber but light peach fuzz, as it is truly a member of the melon family with no bitterness or ‘burps’. When harvested young (as pictured), slice and use whole as you would a cucumber. If allowed to grow, it will begin to show ribbing and develop a thin skin, and the flavor will shift to a that of a mildly sweet melon. A wonderful ‘cucumber’, a best seller, and a huge hit on any table and a great novelty at market.

Carosello Mezzo Lungo and other armenian cucumbers, carosellos and pickling melons from  Solan Seeds

Original post from Mas du Diable  August 8, 2009  updated July 2012

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  1. #1 by Betty on August 11, 2011 - 20:07

    I am so glad that I have found this site! I have been trying to identify what I was growing. I knew that it was a cucumber, but I never saw a fuzzy one! Based on what mine looks like, I have a Carosello Barese cucumber plant. The cucumbers are now 4 inches in length and they are light green and very slightly oblong. I live in Oakley California. It tastes awesome! I wasn’t sure when to harvest it, but now I now to do so when it has fuzz on it. The one I just harvested has short fuzz on it. It has a slightly sweet flavor. I love it!

  2. #2 by Laura on August 1, 2012 - 10:48

    Glad you found the info useful here are the previous comments from the original post
    1. Matron wrote:
    That is amazing! You could keep them as a pet!

    8/8/09 1:18:40 PM email website
    2. Maggie wrote:
    Hi Laura, we also grew and have saved the bari cucumber seeds from Kate. I found an American site last year with cucumbers that I am sure are the same variety. I shall try to find that site and let you know. Some of our saved seeds are in pots ready for our spring planting it will be interesting to see how they grow this year.

    8/8/09 6:18:08 PM email website
    3. Maggie wrote:
    There are pictures of the Bari cucumbers we grew here.
    Matron is right they look like little furry pets in the garden!

    8/8/09 6:23:56 PM email website
    4. hardworkinghippy wrote:
    They look really pretty too! It’s good to find a cucumber that’s not too bitter. Our “normal” cucumbers are dry and seedy this year – it’s been very hot with hardly any rain and it would be good to find an alternative. If I can find any seeds I’ll try these next year. Thanks.

    8/9/09 4:03:07 AM email website
    5. Kate wrote:
    Wow Laura, this is all so interesting!I am so glad you are enjoying the seed I gave you. I love these little cucumbers and they are so prolific you don’t need any others. I have some of the original seeds still, so if you like I can send you some for next year especially as now we are neighbours!!

    8/10/09 3:55:22 PM email website
    6. Maggie wrote:
    Laura, I just looked at the difference the fruit the same seeds produced.Ours ended up more striped and fatter than how yours grew. I guess that is just different soil and climate. What do you think?

    8/11/09 5:58:05 AM email website
    7. Thomas wrote:
    Wow! Thanks for sharing this little known variety! I’ll have to put this on my list of seeds to track down!

    8/11/09 8:38:10 AM email website
    8. Laura wrote: I’ve got a pet at the moment one really huge one I am growing on to save the seeds from. Hopefully there has been no crossing with the melons I planted later, if anyone wants to try them. Hardworking Hippy the other alternative is the Armenian Cucumber also botanically a melon, it does not get bitter either. Maggie they look similar but yours do look different mine seem to be a little more cucumber shaped.

    8/15/09 6:26:48 PM email website
    9. Matron wrote:
    That looks wonderful! I love the idea of a little furry jacket! Just an ideal size for a meal too! Might look for some of these to grow next year (if we get a summer here!)

    9/1/09 12:17:36 PM email website
    10. dani wrote:
    I’m always eager to try new cuke varieties, especially ones as interesting, tasty, and prolific as these. I will definitely look for them. Thanks!

    9/7/09 10:00:23 AM email website
    11. dani wrote:
    I’m always eager to try new cuke varieties, especially ones as interesting, tasty, and prolific as these. I will definitely look for them. Thanks!

    9/7/09 10:01:45 AM email website
    12. ruth wrote:
    it’s great to find you! we aren’t so far away, in the vaucluse and just starting off. these sound great, and we would love to get seeds from you. meanwhile the pictures of your cuke remind me of a wonderful and prolific ‘sicilian courgette’ we bought seeds for in italy (near bari actually), a nutty courgette that grows very long and does not go soggy in stews and curries! the plant looks almost identical, with a white flower that comes out mostly in the evenings, and the fruit is also very slightly furry at first. here is a link to my blog about it. what do you think? same family?

    9/12/09 11:54:39 AM email website
    13. Thomas wrote:
    Laura, is everything alright out there in the mountains of france??? I’m really starting to miss my regular dose of Mas Du Diable! 🙂

    9/17/09 1:07:08 PM email website
    14. Laura wrote:
    I have some Bari seeds saved now so I am happy to share/swap them if anyone wants some. We are alright up here on the mountain, thanks for asking Thomas, and sorry for the lack of posts but it has been a very difficult time with family illnesses taking precident for most of the year and struggling to make ends meet so I’ve had much less time to spare and what little time I’ve had I’ve turned to painting. (planning to do a painting blog and hopefully sell my paintings). The recent lack of posts is due to an altogether other reason – I’ve started the process of moving my blog – a mammoth task – but it has to be done because this weblog is costing too much money to host (the more traffic the more it costs) so I have been working on moving content to a more standard free set up.

  3. #3 by Jay on February 15, 2014 - 23:06

    Dear Laura,

    Thank you for your post.

    I love to grow all the Carosello varieties that I can. I hope to continue growing as many varieties as possible here in the United States. They really do well in the heat and seem to be more disease-resistant than regular cucumber varieties. My favorite thing about these varieties is that they are burpless and bitter free.

    There are quite a few of these cucumber-melon varieties at Cucumbershop.com

  4. #4 by Marie Cassano on July 7, 2016 - 00:59

    My husband’s family is from Bari and we brought seed back with us the last time we were there.
    He always saves several for seed at the end of the season. We also grow the Armenian cucumber; however is is not as flavorful as the Carosello. The Armenian cucumber will get bitter with growth, but not the Carosello.

  5. #5 by Jay on January 6, 2017 - 21:56

    Dear Marie,

    I have only had an issue with the Armenian cucumber when the soil was especially acidic. Otherwise, I have not encountered any bitterness.

    Just to add to the above list in the original post, I have noticed most all of the Carosello and Armenian cucumber varieties (including the Barese or Bari) are also offered at Cucumbershop.com.

  1. Italian Edibles | You Grow Girl

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