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Preserve Your Harvest,  Recipes

Pickled Cucamelons (Sour Gherkins): Easy Refrigerator Pickles

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.

Learn how to grow cucamelons here!

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DeannaCat has a handful of cucamelons, they look like baby watermelons. One of the cucamelons is sliced open at the equator, revealing a lemon cucumber like appearance inside.

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.


  1. 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.

  2. Wash and sort the cucamelons. Avoid using any that are bruised, soft, or otherwise damaged.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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).

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. Consume within 2 to 3 months for the best quality and texture. Constant refrigeration required.

A four part birds eye view image collage, the first image shows a mason jar from the top, the bottom of the jar contains sprigs of dill, garlic cloves, chili flakes, peppercorns, and mustard seeds. The second image shows the jar after it has been filled to the top with cucamelons (sour gherkins). The third image shows the jar after it has be filled with the vinegar brine, mostly covering the sour gherkins, with a couple chili flakes floating amongst them. The fourth image shows the jar after two grape leaves have been pressed into the top of the jar, covering the sour gherkins and submerging themselves in the brine. A few chili flakes are floating on the top of the leaves.
An image of a quart sized mason jar full of pickled cucamelons. The bottom of the jar is lined with sprigs of dill followed with cloves of garlic and layers of cucamelons. Mustard seed, peppercorns, and chili flakes are throughout the jar, floating in the vinegar brine.


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.

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4.13 from 58 votes

Pickled Cucamelons (Sour Gherkins): Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Please enjoy our favorite quick & easy refrigerator pickled cucamelons, also known as Mexican Sour Gherkins. No canning necessary, though you can if you want. These pickled cucamelons are delectably tangy – and ridiculously cute to boot!
Prep Time15 mins
Pickling Time (in the refrigerator)7 d
Course: Appetizer, Party Food, Preserved Food, Side Dish, Snack
Keyword: cucamelon pickles, pickled cucamelons, refrigerator pickles
Servings: 1 quart jar


  • 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.

DeannaCat signature, keep on growing


  • Daisy

    Is the mustard seed ground or whole? I only have ground mustard seed, is that fine to use and if so how much? Thanks!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Daisy, you can use ground mustard seed and I would use the same amount that is called for. If you are worried about the pickled cucamelons being overly “mustardy” you can cut the amount by half. Hope that helps and enjoy your cucamelons!

      • Gabbie

        Hi! I’m going to try this tonight and return to rate later, but wanted to know if I can add more cucamelons to the jar continuosly as I harvest them? I figure I want to pickle them as fresh as possible and seeing as I only have a couple of plants i might not have enough to fill a jar on a single harvest, and might not want to keep them in the fridge for days until I have enough. Any thoughts? 🙂

        • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

          Hi Gabbie, yes you can absolutely add more fresh cucamelons to your pickle brine. We do this often, just be sure to try and rotate your cucamelons somewhat so you don’t leave any in there for longer than a few months as their quality may diminish with time. Hope that helps and enjoy.

  • Amaya

    4 stars
    Like the recipe, I pickle my Cucamelons!
    But You forgot to tell everyone why you are adding the grape vine leaves/black tea at the end!
    For anyone who does not know, these are added into the jar as they are loaded with tannins and antioxidants-these will help keep the “crunch” in your Cucamelons.(otherwise they tend to go a bit soggy/mushy over time).
    If you intend to store these pickles long term- or can for preservation, then I definitely recommend adding a grape vine leaf or two, even open a tea bag and add some leaves of black tea! It really helps! Plus it can help keep the Cucamelons submerged by having a large leaf over the top but under the pickling liquid!
    I purchased my cucamelon seedlings from Bunnings hardware in Australia. Once you have them in, they sort of die off in winter and then come back more voraciously the next spring!
    And each year more baby seedlings pop up around my garden and we have more and more fruit!
    It’s great for climbing along fences and walls!
    I really love these little guys!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Thanks for sharing Amaya, we included the reason for adding grape or oak leaves or even a black tea bag in the ingredients section.

  • Elizabeth

    This is my second year growing cucamelons and I have an overabundance! I’m so glad you posted this recipe so I can do something else with these little things, thank you!

  • Lindsay Marsh

    5 stars
    I am growing Cucamelons for the first time this year, in part inspired by wanting to try this recipe and not being able to buy any! I finally reached a critical mass that I could make pickles with and my oh my they are delicious!

    Having waited until now to have enough to make pickles, the cucamelons are coming thick and fast so I plan to make some more pickles this weekend. I don’t have fresh dill, so I used dried…. and bought some seeds to grow some next year! Haha!

      • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

        Hi Laura, the general substitution for using dried herbs instead of fresh is 1/3rd the total amount. Yet for this recipe we didn’t list exact chopped amounts for the dill, but I think you should be fine with using anywhere between 1 and 2 tablespoons of dried dill.

  • Melodie Mills

    What does this recipe compare to in taste?Is it more like a bread and butter pickle?A sweet pickle or dill?Have you ever fermented them?

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Melodie, we haven’t fermented cucamelons as of yet but this recipe is definitely more on the dill side of the pickle spectrum.

  • CarolB

    Thanks for the recipe!
    I do have a questions…which salt do you personally use? Your recipe asks for 2 tsp sea salt, kosher salt or pickling salt but measurement wise they’re not all the same. For example 1 tsp of pickling salt equals 2 tsp of kosher salt.


    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi CarolB, that is the problem with salt as they can all vary depending on the type used. We typically use light grey Celtic sea salt which is fairly course, more on par with a kosher salt. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • Paula Chavis

    5 stars
    Can you do this recipe and water bath canning for 10 minutes to preserve these longer for winter months?
    Perhaps using Crisper additive?

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Paula, although this isn’t a recipe designed to be used for canning, it contains all vinegar so we would have no issue using this recipe for that purpose. Cucamelons are fairly crisp to begin with but you may choose to use a product that will help them retain their crunch. Good luck!

  • Lanette Larson

    5 stars
    Hi! I a am also on the central coast and just getting ready to dive in to canning season when I see this!?!? I would love to give this a try, do you know if I can I find any locally?

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hello Lanette, I have yet to see them for sale at any grocery store or farmers market. Your best bet may be to try growing some yourself from seed as I haven’t seen any seedlings for sale at the nurseries either. Let us know if you end up finding a source for fresh cucamelons or seedlings, thanks for reading and good luck!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Lachie, thanks for the heads up! That was a typo on our part, we have used a mixture of water and vinegar as the brine for pickling in the past, however this one we chose to use all vinegar. It has been corrected in the recipe card and thanks again for the careful reading. Enjoy those pickled cucamelons!

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