I snapped a shot of these quick pickles the other day because they were so cute. Made with tiny mouse melons, a.k.a. Mexican sour gherkins, a.k.a. cucamelons, a.k.a. Melothria scabra, I just cracked them open and lo and behold, these might be the best cornichons I’ve ever had, so I had to jot down the recipe.
The natural lemony tang in the mouse melons goes wonderfully with the tarragon, and the little guys stay crisp after a day or two in the brine. If you’re growing these, you are sure to have tons of them like I do, so definitely put up a jar or two. I simply used leftover brine from making dilly beans and two fresh sprigs of tarragon.
If I had had more, I would have tried lacto-fermenting mouse melon cornichons. I made some really excellent ones with small pickling cucumbers this year, so I was kind of already full up anyway.
Edited to add: The lacto-fermented cornichons were great. A different taste — more deeply sour and less sharp, with a pronounced mouse melon flavor that’s hidden by the vinegar in the quick pickle. They are holding up nicely with a couple of grape leaves in the single half-pint jar I put up. Alas, the quick pickles turned mushy after a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, so be advised that you want to stick with the idea of “quick” with these guys. A friend processed the quick pickle recipe at around 7 minutes, and his are holding up, though, so more experiments are in order if we want a shelf-stable vinegar pickle version.
Mouse Melon Cornichons
Makes 1 half-pint.
- 1/8 cup canning salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon pickling spices
- 2 sprigs tarragon
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced in half
- 2/3 cup mouse melons, blossom end scraped off with your nail
Heat salt, water, and wine vinegar to a boil in a nonreactive saucepan. It will make too much brine, so use the rest for quick pickled cucumbers or cauliflower or peppers. Remove from heat. To your jar, add the mustard seeds, pickling spices, tarragon, and garlic, then add the mouse melons. Top with hot brine and seal. Let cool on the counter, then refrigerate. Serve with sliced meats or cheeses and your guests will die of cuteness.