|Cuteness from the garden. Who wouldn't love these heart cucumbers from their own garden?|
What more can I say about these fun and cute cucumber molds from Japan that I haven't said already, except that - yes, my past posts on these molds when I first saw them in Japan 5 years ago have been kind of insanely popular on Pinterest and in social media. More than 2 million hits a year. An image from Japan of these molds is still my most re-pinned image on Pinterest. There is no denying that there are lots of home gardener and mommy bloggers who adore these molds. I just wonder who has actually tried them. It's time to find out how they work.
|OK, I did it. We are not really fans of the heart-shaped cucumber, but somehow, I had to try it!|
Now, I've finally grown my own, to see how they work, and to get nicer photos for myself. Be prepared however, as these molds are costly and hard to find. I don't need more comments about how expensive they are, since I know that they are ridiculously expensive - but, it you have kids, or if you have a lot of disposable income, then why not order a few? (at nearly $80 per mold, you may only want one!).
The amazing thing about these heart and star shaped cucumbers, are the molds themselves. Difficult to find and ridiculously expensive if ordered from Japan ( the ones that cost nearly $80 US each) are nice, but the same ones are now found on a few other sites such as this one, for as low as $26. I can't recommend any source, so you will have to take your chances. New designs are coming into the marketplace however, so you may just want to try one of those.
In fact, Burpee's now carries them on their website, but I have not tried them yet. They even carry some designed especially for tomatoes. At only $14.99, the price feels more affordable for the home gardener. These look as if they are manufactured by a different company, but I would imagine that they work just as well. I might try those next year.
I will say that my friend Jess ordered mine from Japan in an effort to try to convince me that I had to manufacture and make my own to sell here in the States. But I fought back saying something like 'Shark Tank would kick us off of the show, telling us that the real money would be in licensing the molds, or licensing the brand out to growers, but not selling them. I mean, it's not as if every household in North America would need one, but a couple of good greenhouse cucumber growers might need a few hundred for a novelty item.
|These molds, imported from Japan are strong, yet small. It takes some care to properly use them, but now, there are other molds on the market which are less costly, and more manageable.|
I've had my two for a few years now, and since I mostly grow pickling cucumbers (Kirby types), I tried last year, but they really didn't work that well with these fatter cucumbers. This year, I am growing a few seedless and Marketmore-type cucumbers - not ideal for these, as really, they are designed for the long, greenhouse-type of cucumbers, but the mold still worked.
|As the cucumber grows, it fills the mold. One needs to pay careful attention, so that it does grow too large or rot. This may only take a couple of days.|
After a thunderstorm this past Monday, I placed the two plastic plated around a tiny cucumber I found in the garden (the cuke needs to be very small, to fit between the two plates. So 1/4 inch diameter baby cuke it just about the right size. Anything bigger, and parts of the mold will touch.
|Ideally, one would use burpless, seedless or greenhouse European-type cucumbers, but even this Marketmore 70 fits the mold. These large types will just not extend very long, so expect shorter cucumbers.|
In August, cucumbers grow ridiculously fast, so I knew that in just a couple of days I would have my first hear shaped fruit, as long as it didn't mold or rot in the hot sun. Clearly, these molds are designed for tiny, Japanese gardens on balconies or for use in poly tunnels, and not for big, New England backyard gardens. Today, I checked early in the morning, only 2 days later, and the tube mold was full. I didn't want to risk the cucumber rotting so I picked it.
|My cucumbers were smaller than if they didn't have molds, but this was just a fun experiment. They don't don't look like much when unmolded after a few days, but once sliced, the magic happens.|
It looked odd, and it was terribly short (about 3 inches long, but size isn't everything). The magic happens when you cut the cucumber, which I was more than anxious to do. I rushed into the house, found a paring knife and some iceberg lettuce to prop a quick photoshoot with. No time for fancy greens, but I did have lots of baby tomatoes ( an orange variety from Johnny's called Clementine, which are shaped exactly like Clementine oranges, and, they are orange!).
|A cute, heart shaped cucumber to delight kids, hubbies or the family.|
I sliced through the middle of the cuke, and surprisingly, it was indeed heart-shaped. Yay! Cucumbers for breakfast, before I rushed off to work.
|Today, commercial growers are using these. This Canadian grower is marketing them under the Picky Gardener label.|
|Low cost alternative molds are also being sold. These were found on the Burpee's site, and they even had tomato molds.|