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The Barattiere

What is a Barattiere Cucumber?

The Barattiere is a Cucumis melo (muskmelon) that is grown as a cucumber for its savory tender, yet crisp white flesh and smooth crisp light green skin. Unlike regular cucumbers, this oval to round melon cucumber is bitter-free and gentle on the indigestion. The sprawling vines of the Barattiere are drought-tolerant and thrive in warm to very hot climates.

The flesh of the Barattiere remains tender for an extended period of time so that the fruit can be picked when between 3 and 6 inches (7-15 cm) in diameter. While often considered a carosello (an Italian melon picked immature as a cucumber) the Barattiere’s genetic heritage appears to be different than other caroselli (plural for carosello).

What is the background history of the Barattiere Cucumber?

Considered the best carosello by most who have tried it, the Barattiere or Fasano owes its name to the first grower, Leonardo Pinto, nicknamed “Barattiere”. While the nickname means “barter” in Italian, Leonardo never bartered the seeds of the immature melon variety that he originally received from a monk friend of his in the late 1940s. Instead, Pinto freely shared the “cucumarazz d ‘ barettier” with any who asked. In the plain of Fasano in Ostuni, where the Barattiere originates, the fruit is often referred to as “cucumarazz” after the word “watermelon” in the Coriscan language – perhaps because the shape is reminiscent of a watermelon. As Pinto’s “cucumarazz” were considered the most delicious of all the cucumbers in the area, all the local farmers requested it from him. Other names for varieties related to the Barattiere include “Fasano” “Cianciuffo” or even “the rouge”. While some believe this last nickname may have had something to do with Leonardo Pinto, those who knew him describe him as “the classic example of a country man, generous and available”.

As time progressed, farmers learned that the barattiere vines grown near the sea using brackish irrigation water would produce fruit that was more tender, fragrant and delicious. From August through October, the barattiere are still grown in Monopoli, Carovigno and Fasano. On the hills above Fasano they grow them in fields without irrigation, so the roots seek refreshment in the strips of soil that form between one rock and another. Even as the autumn sets in, the fruit retains its quality and those grown in July are distinguished from those grown from August through October by the lighter color of the latter.

Source Material:

Amici dell’orto (Friends of the Garden) blog post. “Caroselli” http://amicidellortodue.blogspot.com/2009/07/caroselli.html

Barattiere Wikipedia Page

La Provincia Cremona. “The Barattiere (or immature Melon)… a mysterious fruit” https://www.laprovinciacr.it/news/a-tavola/170397/il-barattiere-o-melone-immaturo-un-frutto-misterioso.html

OsservatOriOoggi.it. The History of Leonardo Pinto and His Melons. “Give a ‘barattiere’ to the thirsty” http://www.osservatoriooggi.it/mensile/ieri/12858-date-un-%E2%80%98barattiere%E2%80%99-agli-assetati

Plants. An MDPI open access journal. “Barattiere: An Italian Local Variety of Cucumis melo L. with Quality Traits between Melon and Cucumber” https://123dok.org/document/9ynl17kq-barattiere-italian-local-variety-cucumis-quality-traits-cucumber.html

Scientific Gardener Blog Posts:

The Fasano and Barattiere Grow-out (Release: July 19, 2024)

YouTube videos about the Barattiere:

Barattiere in Campo (By BioDiverSO and Eco-Logica Srl)

Cucumber Melon (Cucumis melo var flexuosus) Carosello Barratiere

Planting the Fasano and Barattiere in Suisun Valley, CA

First Look at the Barattiere

Barattiere and Fasano

Cetrioli pugliesi o barattiere o casorelli o Meloncelli

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