Pickled Sanditas

Sanditas? What the heck are those?

A tiny variety of cucumber, also known as Mexican Sour Gherkins and cucamelon, this is a vegetable you are likely to fall head over heels for! Smaller than a quarter and resembling a miniature watermelon, the sandita is a prolific producer that takes up very little space in the garden. I have been growing sanditas for three years, and I’m so completely smitten by them I’ve decided they will be a part of my garden every year from now on. Read more about this unique heirloom cucumber here: Hooked on This Heirloom: Sanditas.

Because it’s a cucumber, I think it goes without saying that a sandita MUST be pickled. You can certainly make pickled sanditas using a vinegar brine, but I’d recommend fermenting them for the added health benefits of probiotics. Fermenting cucumbers produces a pickle like no other…the exquisite sour bite is addicting. I like the way these tiny pickles look next to small mounds of black olives and cubed cheese on a veggie tray. No one is expecting to see baby pickles that resemble mini watermelons…what a fun way to introduce the family to fermented foods at your next family gathering.

If you have fermented vegetables before, you know that a salt brine is used, and that different measurements of salt produce varying percentages of brine. While many veggies do fine with the ‘sweet spot’ of a 2-3 percent brine, cucumbers need a bit more because they are more prone to mold. The brine ratio I used for this recipe is about 6%.  Though you could experiment with the spices, I went with the standard dill, garlic, and pepper in this recipe to create a tingling-sour, dill pickle flavor.

Pickled Sanditas

• wide-mouth quart jar

• 2 cups filtered water

• 1 ½ T. mineral-rich salt

• sanditas (enough to almost fill a quart jar—take a jar out to the garden with you and fill it!)

• 1 clove garlic, peeled

• ½ t. peppercorns

• 1 sprig fresh dill

1. Before you begin fermenting, wash your hands and make sure all your tools, utensils, and equipment are clean. This is the first important step in helping to prevent mold.

2. In a glass bowl or measuring cup, combine the 2 cups of water and 1 ½ T. salt until completely dissolved, then set aside.

3. Place dill, garlic, and peppercorns in the bottom of the quart jar. Top with the sanditas. As you place the sanditas in the jar, take your thumbnail or fingernail and gently scrape the blossom end to make sure there is no tiny bump of the blossom left on it. This will help keep the pickles crisp. Fill the jar with sanditas until there is an inch of headroom left at the top.

4. Pour the saltwater brine over everything in the jar, poking and stirring gently a few times with the handle of a wooden spoon or a chopstick to remove air bubbles. Top with a weight, and then a lid and airlock.

5. Allow to ferment in a dark place, avoiding extreme temperatures, at least a week—then start tasting. Mine were perfect after 2 weeks, but you can taste until they are perfect to you. Once they’ve reached the flavor you love, store the pickled sanditas in the fridge (removing airlock first) for 6 months to a year. Enjoy your tiny, cute pickles!

Andrea gardens, forages, cooks and ferments on a little plot in the city. She loves spreading the word about age-old practices and making them new, exciting and feasible for everyone. Find her at LittleBigHarvest.com.

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