Muromskiy Cucumber

Ark of taste
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The Muromskiy cucumber is an old variety known since the 13th century. The center of origin is Russia’s Vladimir region, particularly the city of Murom. It has been widely cultivated since the middle of the 19th century in the central part of Russia.  The cucumbers are small, 6-8 cm long, and weighting 50-70 g each. They are oval shaped, knobby, and light green with streaks of brighter green. The variety is very rare and resistant to cool weather. It takes only 32-42 days for plants to fruit, a very precious characteristic in the moderately continental climate of the region. This variety is typically harvested until the second half of August. They are crunchy, and the taste is a bit astringent, but pleasant. Cucumbers can be a bit bitter if old or if the plants did not receive enough water. In Russian cuisine, cucumbers are usually used without cooking. They are served as appetizers or used to prepare salads. Much wider is the use of sour cucumbers. They also are great appetizers, a garnish to meat and fish dishes and are a principal ingredient of national soups rassolnik and solyanka. Muromskiy cucumbers are perfect for salting, but are widely used fresh as well. A traditional method of salting cucumbers is to soak them in barrels of spring water with salt and spices (chilli pepper, dill, garlic, horseradish, black currant leaves and cherry leaves) for one month. Cucumbers in general originated in southeastern Asia, where still some wild ancestors can be found. They were brought to Russia through the Byzantine Empire, and the population of Suzdal (northeast of Moscow) and the surrounding areas were very successful in cultivating them, and developed varieties such as the Muromskiy and, Vasnikovskiy cucumbers. Since 2001, a Cucumber Festival has been held every July in Suzdal. It attracts so many visitors that, in the one day of the event, the town is visited by a number of guests equal to the number of local citizens (the population of Suzdal is 11800). During this festival, about 80 local farmers sell their produce and seeds. The seeds of Muromskiy cucumber can be also found on sale in specialized seed stores of the region.   Muromskiy cucumbers are not cultivated in industrial qualities. Instead, individual farmers have 150-300 acres of land where they produce different types of fruits and vegetables (including cucumbers) for self-consumption and to be sold at the farmers markets. Fresh cucumbers can be purchased directly from farmers or at farmers market in the region, including, occasionally, Moscow. In the Valdimir region there is one Melenkovsky cannery that still uses Muromskiy cucumber for salting. Often, the cucumbers are salted for self-consumption.   Muromskiy cucumbers were very popular before World War II, and were even exported abroad, mainly to Germany, where they were widely known as ‘Russian cucumbers” for their extraordinary taste characteristics. In Soviet times, the cultivation of cucumbers was a good source of income; in two seasons one could have earned enough money to purchase a car (while, for a normal person it would have taken 4-5 years of income). During the years of decline of Russian agriculture, the purity of the Muromskiy cucumber dropped to 68%, and today still suffers from being mixed with other varieties.

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Vladimir oblast