Posted on 4 Comments

The Carosello Barese Cucumber

What is a Carosello Barese Cucumber?

Imagine you are an tomato gardener and find out a friend is growing tomatoes. You ask them what kind they are growing and they say “Red”. To which you ask them to be more descriptive. They reply “round”. You ask “Can you be a little more descriptive – like what type are they?” to which they reply, “I am growing red round tomatoes”.

Though this hypothetical narrative is very simple, so is the name of the Carosello Barese cucumber. There are dozens of unique carosello cucumber varieties, many of which originate from the area around Barese and also share the name “Barese”. While this particular carosello cucumber may very well originate from Bari, Italy – the variability of the variety as well as the traits that it shares with some other carosello varieties would lead some to believe that it is not a particularly unique carosello variety at all. The Carosello Barese can be incredibly variable not only from one seed supplier to another, but from one grower to another. But what exactly is a Carosello Barese? Generally speaking, a Carosello Barese cucumber is an Italian Cucumis melo (variety chate or Adzhur) that has an oval to cylindrical fruit with light colored exterior. The flesh of this thin-skinned cucumber is tender yet crisp, bitter-free and easy on the digestion. Currently, I know of two different variations of this one variety.

This variety of Carosello Barese is very similar to the Carosello Mezzo Lungo Barese, but much more juicy

The first type of Carosello Barese is very similar in appearance to the Mezzo Lungo Barese, except that it is not as hairy as the Mezzo Lungo Barese is. The outer skin is light in color and has some furrows spreading from end to the other along the long portion of the fruit. Unlike the Mezzo Lungo Barese, which is much more crispy, the flavor is much more like the Scopattizo Barese. The flesh is a little more tender and slightly more juicy than the Mezzo Lungo (or Medium Long) of Barese.

The Carosello Barese Cucumber from Italy – This variant is nearly identical to the Light Leccese

The second type of Carosello Barese that I know of is much more similar to the Carosello Bianco Leccese or, what I commonly refer to as the Light Carosello Leccese. This variety has thin tender skin and is has a relatively smooth cylindrical surface. However, the last Carosello Barese that I grew was much more variable in shape and growth (some growing bushy, while others grew longer vines) than the Bianco Leccese.

This Carosello Barese Cucumber (Cucumis melo var. chate) is very close to the Light Leccese

If you grow anywhere where heat is a concern or would just to grow a delicious cucumber for a change, you may want to consider growing the Carosello Barese cucumber. While not always the most consistent variety, they are often superior to many other cucumbers in taste, texture and quality.

Posted on 16 Comments

The Carosello Cucumber

So What exactly is a Carosello Cucumber?

Long before the regular Indian cucumber (Cucumis sativus) had swept through Europe, many varieties of immature fruit of muskmelon (Cucumis melo) thrived. After making their way up from Africa, these melon-cucumbers became the default cucumber for both the common people and the rulers. But perhaps because changes in politics or because of the practical demands of countries that prefer to utilize cucumbers for their storage qualities, Cucumis melo fell out of favor in almost all of the continent as the more cool-tolerant Cucumis sativus was introduced. While the majority of Europe had largely forgotten C. melo cucumbers, immature cucumbers continued to thrive in southern Italy. Small pockets of small-scale farmers continued to grow out these immature cucumber-melons for their families and to sell at market. In the Apulia region of Italy, this immature melon (Cucumis melo var. chate or adzhur) that is picked immature as a cucumber is known as a carosello. A carosello cucumber is a muskmelon that is picked early like a zucchini, yet consumed like a gourmet cucumber. With a fine crisp-yet-tender texture, rich flavor and exceptional quality, many carosello cucumbers are truly in a class of their own.

Carosello varieties – from the Biodiversity of the Horticultrual Species in Pugliga (BiodiverSO) website at
Image from the website For the Biodiversity of the Horticultrual Species in Pugliga (BiodiverSO) at

Carosello cucumbers come in many shapes from longer to cylindrical to oval to round. They range in color from nearly white to slightly mottled, to slightly dark to fully dark green. Carosello can also exhibit different patterns such as striped, mottled or solid coloring. Many have a unique texture to the flesh and a taste that was selected by the individual farmers where they originated. Each variety has its own unique qualities that make it worth enjoying.

Various caroselli, courtesy of carosellopugliese.blogspot

Where did the Carosello cucumber get its name?

The name “Carosello” for these cucumbers came by Italian seed companies trying to label the seeds with a word that would be familiar with consumers. A friend of mine, Giuseppe Monteleone, who has a family history in the region where these cucumber-melons come from further explains: “In Italian the word “carosello” means the same as the English word “carousel” [meaning the amusement ride for children in which children ride around on a circle while listening to music from an organ]. In the case of the carosello cucumber, the most accepted explanation is that it comes from a local dialect word: “carusieddo” because the first place in Puglia in ancient times when “carusieddo” was first cultivated is Carosino, a small village close to Taranto. When seed companies decided to market “carusieddo”, they couldn’t write on seed packets a vernacular word, so they chose the closest Italian word to “carusieddo” as a sound: carosello, which doesn’t have anything to do with “carousel” in this case.”

Various caroselli, courtesy of carosellopugliese.blogspot

How do you grow a Carosello Cucumber?

Begin by finding high quality seed and preparing the beds. As carosello cucumbers are fundamentally melons (Cucumis melo variety chate) they tend to grow like other vines in the muskmelon family. Melons thrive in the heat and enjoy soils rich soils that drain well. They can be sensitive to wet roots and should be grown in raised areas or hills in areas where there is abundant summer rainfall.

Growing Striped Carosello Leccese (Meloncella Fasciata) cucumbers.

Germinating seed prior to planting can often save time, but be careful when handling seedlings as melons and cucumber have very delicate roots that are easily damaged and root shock will stunt plant growth. Plant seeds or seedlings in the soil when there is no longer any danger of frost. Vines prefer hot days and warm nights. While most carosello varieties produce their first crop of cucumbers when the vines are just over 12 inches in diameter, the roots will require more space as the vines grow.

Various caroselli, courtesy of carosellopugliese.blogspot

Carosello grow like a zucchini, with the initial cluster of fruit in the crown of the vine and later flushes of fruit setting further on. Similar to zucchini, carosello cucumbers grow quickly and should be harvested often. Any Pick fruit when between 1-2 inches in diameter as the quality is often best when about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Round varieties are often best when picked at the size of a peach (3-5 inches in diameter) fuzz on the fruit can either be eaten or can be easily brushed off dry or under a little running water. The skin of most varieties is thin and tender, while the flesh can range from tender, yet crisp to very firm. The initial flavor and texture is similar to a Lebanese or English cucumber, while the aftertaste is often slightly sweet. Carosello cucumbers are often easier to digest than regular cucumbers and, unlike regular cucumbers, the fruit does not exhibit bitterness when the plant is stressed.

How do you save seed from Carosello Cucumbers?

Saving seed of carosello cucumber is very similar to saving seeds of regular Muskmelon because they are Cucumis melo and will easily cross with any other muskmelon, such as cantaloupe or honeydew – and many of the same rules apply. One way to recognize fruit that is beginning to produce seed is that the fruit will first grow very large, then stop growing – even when the plant continues to thrive. To determine seed ripeness, look for fruit that slips from the vine, has changed color, begins to smell very sweet or has become very soft. Once the fruit begins to decay, seed can be removed, rinsed and dried for growing the next generation. Without intentional selection, open-pollinated vegetable varieties often experience what is called “drift”. This means that without saving seed from fruit and plants that exhibit characteristic traits of the specific cultivar, the variety can noticeably change over the course of just a few generations.

Saving Seeds of a Carosello Cucumber (Cucumis sativus var. chate)

Picture Sources:

BiodiverSO For the Biodiversity of the Horticultrual Species in Pugliga at

Carosello Pugliese Blog (Carosello Pugliese and other vegetables grown on the balcony) at: