Pickling is a great way to preserve food, and it’s not hard to do. These pickled cucamelons are the perfect thing to have on hand for salads, tacos, backyard barbecues, and charcuterie boards.! They also make a fantastic gift idea for friends and family during the holiday season!
They are so darn cute, and they will cheer up even the grumpiest person.
Our sweet and spicy pickled cucamelons add the perfect level of tang and acidity to offset the richness of cheese and meat. The sweetness balances out the heat and compliments anything you serve.
You can make this recipe as a refrigerator pickle or can them the old-fashioned way so they last all year.
Here’s why we love this recipe
- Gift your loved ones in a creative way
- Fun and delicious to eat
- They are the cutest pickles on the block
- So adorable they will brighten up any meal
What are Cucamelons?
Cucamelons are an increasingly popular fruit in the U.S., with their production increasing in recent years where they have been called “the next big thing” for farmers who grow them due to the high demand. Native to Central America, they are easy to grow in the U.S., even in cooler climates like the Pacific Northwest.
Cucamelons look like mini watermelons but taste more like cucumbers. They can be eaten as a snack or used as a garnish for salads, ceviche, tacos, and fish dishes.
The plant is easy to grow and doesn’t require much maintenance. It’s resistant to pests because of its thick skin that protects against insects and diseases. It grows quickly, and a single plant can produce up to 350 fruits per season. They also make great container plants.
These adorable miniature fruits are also called mouse melons, Mexican sour gherkins, or pepquinos.
- Pickling spice blend. We provided a recipe for a homemade spice blend, but you can purchase a blend if you like.
- Apple cider vinegar. This vinegar adds a mellow flavor.
- White vinegar. White vinegar helps prevent the brine from looking too brown from the apple cider vinegar.
- Pickling salt. If you use regular table salt, the non-caking ingredients added to it will make the pickle brine look cloudy.
- Sugar. A small amount of sugar adds contrast to the spice.
- Garlic cloves. You can toss in a few extra garlic cloves if you want. They taste great pickled as well. 😉
- Small dried red peppers. If you can’t find these in the grocery store, you can purchase them online.
- Fresh dill fronds. If you find mature dill fronds that look like they started to flower, they will have more “dill” flavor.
- Cucamelons (Mexican gherkins). These miniature melons are easy to grow and we often find them in Farmers Markets.
How to Pickle Cucamelons:
Here is a brief overview of the process. Make sure you scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.
If you plan to make refrigerator pickles, then you don’t need to worry about making a water bath in a canner. However, canning the pickles will help them last for at least a year, and you can save them to give as gifts.
- Prep the jars and the canner.
- Make the brine and keep it warm on the stove.
- Toss some garlic, chilies, and dill fronds into the jars.
- Pack the jars with the cucamelons.
- Pour the brine into the jars and tap them to release the air bubbles.
- Wipe the rims of the jars and secure the lids.
- Process the jars in the canner (or place them in the fridge if you want refrigerator pickles).
- Remove the jars from the canner and let them cool on the counter.
- If you use a different vinegar than the recipe, make sure it has 5% acidity. Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar both have the right amount of acidity.
- You can slice the cucumelons if you want to, but they will pickle just fine if you leave them whole.
- If you want to keep your pickles crisp longer, add a grape leaf to each jar.
- Make sure the jars get completely covered with hot water when you stick them in the canner. Add more hot water if needed.
- Make sure you have a rack in the canner to prevent the jars from resting on the bottom while you process them.
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Pickling Spice Blend
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3 to 4 dried bay leaves, crumbled
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons pickling salt, or Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 12 to 18 garlic cloves
- 12 to 18 dried small red peppers
- 6 to 12 fresh dill fronds
- 4 to 5 cups Mexican gherkins, rinsed and dried
Mix the Pickling Spices
- Add the spices in a bowl and stir to combine.
Prep the Jars and Canner
- Wash 4 pint canning jars, bands, and new lids in hot, soapy water, rinse well. Transfer the jars to the middle rack of the oven to stay hot and sterile till needed.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer, add in lids and bands. Do not boil the lids as the rubber ring will soften.
- Fill a large pot or canner halfway with water, bring to a near boil. You will use this later for the hot water bath.
Make the Pickled Cucamelons
- Add the water, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, salt, and sugar to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolves.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the pickling spice blend to each of the pint jars. Divide the garlic, red peppers, and dill fronds among the jars.
- Pack the jars with the Mexican gherkins, making sure you leave about 1 inch of headspace at the top of the jars.
- Pour the brine into the jars. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jars. Tap the jars on the counter to release any air bubbles.
- Wipe the rims with a clean cloth and place the lids on the jars.
- Turn the burner under the canner pot to high. Place the jars on the canner rack making sure they get completely submerged in the water. If they are not submerged, add more water. Process the jars in the water bath for 10 minutes.
- Use a jar lifter or tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack or dishtowel on the counter. Let the jars cool to room temperature.
- As the jars cool you will hear a "ping" or popping sound as they seal. Also, the lid will be slightly con-caved, if it rattles up and down it is not sealed and should be kept in the refrigerator.
- Let the pickles sit in the brine to infuse with flavor for at least 10 to 14 days before using. Store in a cool dry place for up to 1 year (or in the fridge for 2 months if you are making refrigerator pickles).
- Before you start, rinse the cucamelons under cold water then spread them out on a clean dish towel to dry.
- If you don't have a canner, you can use a standard pot as long as it is tall enough for the jars. Find a rack that fits inside the pot so the jars do not sit directly on the bottom of the pot.
- Want to make refrigerator pickles? After you have the jars filled with all the ingredients, skip the hot water bath and place them directly in the fridge. Store the pickles in the refrigerator for 2 months.
- You can easily double this recipe or divide the recipe among eight smaller half-pint jars.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 108 Serving Size: 1 ounce
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 5Total Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 785mgCarbohydrates: 1.5gFiber: 0.8gSugar: 1g