Stuck With An Underripe Melon? Try Pickling It

Pickled watermelon in jar
Pickled watermelon in jar - Ib_photo/Getty Images

Drupes, citruses, berries, and pomes are some of Mother Nature's most decadent fruits. Delicious as they are, the list isn't complete without melons. From crunchy watermelon to tender cantaloupe and sweet honeydew, melons are picnic staples large enough to feed a crowd. The only downside to these sizable sweet treats? You have to wait for them to ripen. As melons ripen, they develop that sugary taste and juicy consistency characteristic of a great melon. When they're unripe, they're drier, tougher, and more bland. Instead of waiting for them to ripen, pickle melons to enjoy them as soon the craving hits.

We'll be the first to admit that melons aren't your typical pickling ingredient, but you can pickle just about any vegetable or fruit. Pickled melons are sweet, succulent, tangy, and slightly salty, culminating in a one-of-a-kind melon-eating experience that's not as different from its usual form as you might expect. With their multi-dimensional and zippy flavor profile, pickled melons work in various recipes and are complementary to many foods, ensuring options for putting them to use, beyond snacking, are never limited.

Although you can pickle melons via canning, quick pickling is just as tasty and takes less time than the former option. Dice your melon (the rind can stay on!) and submerge it in a boiled mixture of vinegar, salt, and sugar. Add your favorite herbs and spices, seal the jar tightly, and refrigerate. It will be ready in two hours and last up to one month.

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Ingredients For Sprucing Up Melon Pickle Brine

melon in jar with herbs
melon in jar with herbs - Lena_zajchikova/Getty Images

A basic pickle brine of vinegar, salt, and sugar is enough to soften the texture and brighten the flavor of unripe melons. However, if you want to develop a more complex flavor profile, consider introducing herbs and spices to the brine.

When it comes to herbs, fresh mint can give the melons a bright, cooling taste, while basil will develop a floral, slightly peppery taste, and cilantro can add a punchy, citrusy twang to pickled melons. For something luxurious and fragrant, use lavender. Next up: spices. For something bold, ginger will give pickled melons a sharp, spicy, yet fragrant bravado. If you want something ultra-tangy and citrusy, introduce a chili-lime spice blend to the mix. For pickled melons on the sweeter side, try infusing the brine with star anise, cinnamon, cloves, or vanilla beans.

Unless you're a particularly daring eater, avoid incorporating ultra-savory ingredients commonly used in pickle brines like garlic, onion, and mustard seed. Although a hint of savoriness develops from the vinegar and salt, you want the predominant flavor to be tangy and sweet. If you want to shake things up without adding extra ingredients, substitute distilled white vinegar for apple cider vinegar for a sharp zap of fruitiness, or swap granulated sugar for honey or maple syrup for a floral or warming taste respectively. Don't limit yourself, either. Experiment with flavor combos until you find what works for you.

Tasty Ways To Serve Pickled Melon

Watermelon salad with feta
Watermelon salad with feta - Nerudol/Getty Images

If pickled melon is new to you, it can be hard to find ways to incorporate it into meals. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this zesty sweet treat. For something urbane and unique, grilled fish tacos garnished with pickled honeydew melon will surprise and delight your tastebuds in equal parts. When paired with citrus-kissed fish, spicy jalapeño, garden-fresh salsa, and pickled red onions, the tangy, sweet melon provides a uniquely juicy balance to the plate.

Looking for the perfect summer salad? Bust out your pickled watermelons and pair them with peppery arugula, crumbly feta, and chopped walnuts for a nutty, sweet, tangy, and nutrient-dense salad that can be enjoyed as a side or a main course. If you want to enjoy them as a snack, don't just eat them out of the jar in front of the fridge; add them to a charcuterie board. The tangy, sweet, juicy essence of the briny melons will round out the richness of the cheese, the umami-forward machismo of the cured meats, and the earthy notes of the crunchy nuts.

Whether you enjoy them as an on-the-go snack or carefully placed in a sophisticated entree, pickled melons are surprisingly delicious and versatile. Gone are the days when you waited a week for a melon to ripen; with a little help from a thoughtfully made pickle brine, you can enjoy your melon in hours.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal