Please enjoy our favorite tangy pickled cucamelons recipe. Between their small pop-in-your-mouth size, prolific growing habits, and natural hint of tart lime flavor, cucamelons are just begging to be pickled! This recipe is for refrigerator cucuamelon pickles, so that means it is incredibly quick, easy, and cool to make. No canning necessary! (though you could if you desire) Finally, did I mention they’re delicious?
What are Cucamelons?
Cucamelons, mouse melons, cucamelo, Mexican miniature watermelons… Despite their many cute names and baby melon-like appearance, cucamelons aren’t melons at all! Well, they are technically in the same Cucurbitaceae family, which includes squashes, melons, and cucumbers. Yet cucamelons are the latter – a variety of cucumber! If you’re on the hunt for seeds to grow your own, look for their formal names: Mexican sour gherkins or Melothria scabra. (Here, I found seeds for you!)
Cucamelons are native to Mexico and grow on climbing, drought-tolerant vines. The mature fruit are about the size of a grape and have watermelon-like spotted green and white skin. The insides are full of tender seeds. Cucamelons taste much like a standard cucumber but with a little added sour pop, reminiscent of lemon or lime. If allowed to stay on the vine past their prime, their skin will become increasingly bitter and tough – so pick them soon after they reach the desired size! (Cucuamelon grow guide coming soon).
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And now, on to the pickling!
This pickled cucuamelon recipe is per quart jar – scale up or down as needed.
- 3 to 4 cups of fresh cucamelons
- 1 and 1/3 cups distilled white vinegar
- 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp cane sugar
- 2 tsp sea salt, kosher salt or pickling salt (not table salt)
- approximately 6 sprigs of fresh dill (a small handful)
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- one pinch of red chili flakes, based on personal preference (I use a scant half teaspoon)
- Optional: 1 or 2 grape leaves (or oak, black tea, or horseradish leaves). The tannins in these leaves help the cucamelon pickles maintain maximum crispness.
- In a pot on the stovetop, combine the called-for vinegars, salt, and sugar. Heat and stir the pickling brine until the sugar and salt completely dissolve, and then remove from the heat.
- Wash and sort the cucamelons. Avoid using any that are bruised, soft, or otherwise damaged.
- Add the washed dill and peeled garlic cloves to the bottom of a clean jar, along with the called-for remaining spices. Then, fill the jar with cucamelons.
- Once the brine has cooled to room temperature or lukewarm, pour it over the cucamelons until the jar is full and/or they’re completely submerged. Avoid using hot brine, as it will slightly cook and soften the cucamelons. If available, add a couple grape, oak, black tea, or horseradish leaves on top of the cucamelons, and push them down into the brine.
- Add an air-tight lid, and then move the jar to the refrigerator. (We like to use BPA-free plastic mason jar lids, since the high vinegar/acid content of pickled cucamelons can corrode rings of standard metal mason jar lids over time).
- Allow the pickled cucamelons to marinate in the refrigerator for at least one week to develop maximum pickle flavor. I admit I usually sneak a few early too; I can’t help myself!
- During the first three to four days in the refrigerator, gently tip or shake the jar to wet/rotate any cucamelons floating on top – ensuring even pickling and that no “floaters” become dry or moldy. Or, use a glass/ceramic fermenting weight to keep the cucamelons submerged instead.
- Consume within 2 to 3 months for the best quality and texture. Constant refrigeration required.
You probably don’t need much help figuring out how to enjoy your pickled cucamelons, right? If you don’t end up eating them all straight from the jar like I usually do, try pickled cucumelons on a cheese board or hors d’oeuvre platter, on salads or sandwiches, or even in a Bloody Mary or Dirty Martini!
I hope you enjoy this simple and delicious recipe as much we do! Please stop back by for a review once you try them! Feel free to ask questions or share this post, and thanks for tuning in.
Don’t miss these related recipes:
- Easy Refrigerator Pickled Peppers (Pepperoncinis)
- Tangy Beet Pickled Eggs
- “Pickled” (lacto-fermented) Dilly Green Beans, Carrots, Radishes or Beets
Pickled Cucamelons (Sour Gherkins): Easy Refrigerator Pickles
- 3-4 cups Cucamelons
- 1 1/3 cups White vinegar
- 2/3 cup Apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp Sea salt, kosher or pickling salt
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 6 sprigs Fresh dill (a small handful)
- 2-3 cloves Fresh garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tsp Peppercorns, to taste (about a dozen per jar)
- 1 tsp Mustard seed
- 1 pinch Red chili flakes (scant 1/2 tsp), or 1 fresh hot chili pepper (optional)
- 2 whole Grape leaves – substitute with horseradish, oak, or black tea leaves (optional, for maximum crispness)
- Wash the cucamelons. Avoid using bruised or damaged ones.
- Add the fresh dill, garlic cloves, and other spices to the bottom of a clean quart jar.
- Pack the cucamelons into the jar until full.
- Prepare the pickling brine by combining the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan on the stove. Heat lightly until the sugar and salt dissolve, but then allow the brine to cool to lukewarm/room temperature before adding to the cucamelons.
- Pour the brine over the top of the cucamelons until they are completely submerged. If you happen to run out, top off with plain white vinegar if needed. Add optional grape leaves on top now. Place an air-tight lid on the jar.
- Refrigerate the jar. During the first 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator, gently tip or shake the jar to wet/rotate the top floating cucamelons – ensuring even pickling and that no "floaters" become dry or moldy. Or, use a glass/ceramic fermenting weight to keep the cucamelons submerged instead.
- For optimum flavor, allow the pickled cucamelons to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 week before digging in.
- Enjoy your pickled cucamelons within 2 to 3 months for best quality and flavor. Maintain refrigerated at all times.