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Sweet, Sour, and Spicy Pickled Melon

Scott Phillips19

Yield: Makes about 3 pints

You’ll be pleasantly surprised the first time you take a bite of these lightly pickled melon balls. They’re hot, sweet, and tangy but also bursting with the fresh flavor of melon. Be sure to use melons that are ripe but not too soft, as they will soften slightly during brining.


  • 6 to 8 lb. (2 large or 3 medium) firm-ripe melons, such as cantaloupe, honeydew, canary, or a mix
  • 2 cups granulated sugar or vanilla sugar
  • 1 cup spring or filtered water
  • 3/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 sprigs fresh mint

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size per 1 oz.
  • Calories (kcal) : 19
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 0
  • Fat (g): 0
  • Saturated Fat (g): 0
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Cholesterol (mg): 0
  • Sodium (mg): 10
  • Carbohydrates (g): 3
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Sugar (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 0


  • Run 3 pint-size mason jars and their lids through the hottest dishwasher cycle to sanitize.
  • Halve and seed the melons. Using a melon baller, carve out about 6 cups of melon balls, and place them in a bowl. Reserve any leftover melon for another use.
  • Combine the sugar, water, vinegar, salt, and pepper flakes in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt completely.
  • While the brine is heating, pack the melon balls into the jars as tightly as you can without crushing them. Pour the hot brine into the jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace and making sure the melon balls are completely submerged. Insert 1 mint sprig into each jar, pushing down along the side of the jar with the handle of a spoon to submerge in the brine. Cool to room temperature.
  • Screw the lids on tightly, and let the melon cure in the refrigerator for 4 days before serving. The melon will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month, though it will continue to soften over time.

• Serve with thinly sliced prosciutto as an antipasto.

• Make a fruit salad with blueberries, watermelon, and fresh mint.

• Use in a sweet-and-savory salad with arugula, red onion, and 

The recipe calls for curing the pickles in the refrigerator, but if you’d rather make them shelf-stable until they’re open, you can process the melon in a hot-water bath. Though they will soften over time, the pickles will keep for up to 6 months at room temperature. Simply follow these instructions for hot-water canning, processing the jars for 25 minutes.


Why filtered water? Fruits pickled in agrodolce pick up all of the flavors in the brine—that’s the whole point, after all. Because water is a main component of the brine, I recommend you filter your tap water or use bottled spring water. This way, you can be sure your pickles won’t take on any off flavors from municipal water-treatment chemicals, such as chlorine, or naturally occurring minerals in well water, like sulfur.


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Reviews (1 review)

  • mommasue | 07/31/2016

    This is just spectacular. You don't even have to wait; as a dressing on fresh melon this is superb! Of course, after the 4-day wait, the flavors are even stronger! I love the combination of hot, sweet and salty. Just outstanding!

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