Ann Peckham, on Making ‘Pickled Mellons’

To pickle MELLONS
"Take young green mellons, cut a piece out of their sides the length of your mellons, take out their seeds, drain and rub the insides with salt ; then put into them mustard seed: bruised, shallots and ginger sliced, whole pepper, and horse-raddish ; put your pieces in again, tie them fast down, put them in strong salt and water, and hang them over the fire covered close up 'till they are green ; make a pickle of white wine vinegar and spices, and take the mellons out of the salt and water, and put them into it when hot, and tie them close down. You may do large cucumbers the same way."

Ann Peckham, The Complete English Cook; Or, Prudent Housewife, 1767

This year, at work, we’re growing melons in a polytunnel for an AGM[1] trial. They’re doing rather well, despite being planted up a bit late[2] but on the off-chance that we do have a few smaller, under-rip specimens hanging around at the end of the trial process, this recipe from Ann Peckham’s C18th household management manual might just come in useful.

Salt, mustard seed, shallots, root ginger, pepper (corns, although I expect you could substitute your favourite chili if you prefer), and horseradish as well? That’s some fiery melon-stuffing material right there. Cooked in salted water until they’re green – presumably meaning significantly greener than when they went in – and then finished off in a hot, spiced white wine vinegar liquor. Wow. They sound a bit taste-bud-blowing to me. No recommended serving suggestion, but I guess if you’re into hot pickles then you’ll already have an idea of how to enjoy them.

What do you reckon? Do these fiery pickled melons sound like your sort of thing? Have you made something similar with cucumbers? Do please let me know, via the comments.


1 RHS Award of Garden Merit.
2 I had a dose of covid-19 at just the wrong moment – not that there’s really a right moment – which delayed the schedule by a week or two.

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