Israel’s desert agriculturalists have added a bit of whimsy to this year’s produce.
Heart and star-shaped cucumbers, as well as a giant 88-pound pumpkin, are the newest vegetables from Arava farmers.
The shaped cucumbers are the brainchild of Rami Sadeh, head of one of the desert’s biggest growers,Yofi Shel Yerakot (Beauty of Vegetables). His idea was to spice up the everyday cucumber by growing it in a way that, when sliced, forms fun shapes and encourages kids to eat their greens.
Always seeking to be innovative and try new things, Sadeh’s organic farming company is also behind another new huge produce variety–a giant pumpkin that is a little over 3-feet long.
The massive pumpkins (which are technically a fruit), Sadeh stressed, are one way Israel can show off to the world how desert agriculture is thriving in Israel, especially given the area’s 11-month growing season.
“The pumpkin grows like a melon or watermelon; it’s a warm-season fruit. We have sun all the time so we grow them in winter but instead of a two-month growing season we let them grow slowly for four months,” Sadeh said.
In addition to this year’s offering Sadeh added that his team already has several more fun produce items in the works for next year.
“We’re working on brown peppers and something called SugarTable pumpkins,” he said, adding that the Sugar Table pumpkins taste like nuts and are meant to be pureed.
They are also working on brown peppers to compliment the now common red and green varieties.
“Brown peppers taste like a red pepper and have all the same vitamins.” Sadeh explained. “There is no difference in taste between a brown and red pepper but people like different things so this is a new color for your salad.”