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« Piebox & MightyNest Giveaway winner | Main | Say it with pie - Piebox & Mighty Nest Giveaway »

Watermelon rind pickles

I make these preserves every year and they remain my most popular pantry gifted item to date. You might recall my mention of my love of Linda Ziedrich’s recipe in this watermelon preserving projects post I did a couple years ago. I love this project mainly for its something-from-nothing spirit.

Making rind pickles is sort of a pain in the ass, takes a stretch of at least three days (but can be stretched and spaced out to over a week) and creates a bunch of dishes in its wake. It’s worth it. I’ve not changed Linda’s recipe at all, but I reduced it and am explaining it in terms and segments that might shift an on-the-fence rind pickler mentality into an I’d-do-that-again attitude. I nearly swore them off after my first time making them, but I’m glad I stuck with ‘em.

Rind pickles make fabulous holiday presents and interesting snack table additions for fall gatherings.

Watermelon Rind Pickles

Makes 2 quarts, based exactly on Linda Ziedrich’s Gingery Rind Pickles in the Joy of Pickling 

This recipe uses up about half of a medium-sized watermelon. You can certainly cut up more, but the cutting alone takes 1-2 hours, so plan accordingly.

1. Cut up watermelon into wedges for eating. Cut red portion off the rind and then carefully slice off the dark green portion of the peel. This process sort of takes forever, but bear with it! Stop peeling rind when you have 2-quarts’ worth of prepared rind or multiply the recipe up and can it. Stash peeled rind pieces in the fridge until you’re ready to start a two-day process with making the pickles.

2. Make a salt solution with 1/3-cup pickling salt and 5-1/3 cups water. Put rind pieces in a large mixing bowl and pour the salt solution over them. Weight with a small plate. Let sit overnight or for up to 12 hours.

3. Drain rind pieces, rinse well. Drain and rinse again. Place rinds in a large saucepan and cover with water, bring to a simmer and let rinds cook for 5 minutes and then drain. Reserve rinds until you make your syrup.

4. Make syrup by combining:

  • 1-1/3 cups water
  • 1-1/3 cups white wine vinegar
  • 2-2/3 cups sugar

Combine and place in a piece of cheesecloth cinched with twine and drop into brine:

  • 1 med lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks broken up
  • 1 teaspoon each of whole cloves, allspice berries and cardamom seeds
  • 1-inch piece of ginger sliced thinly, skin on

(This batch I made at the Mueller Farmers’ Market was larger than this recipe’s quantities)

Makin’ pickles in the great outdoors, like you do…

5. Bring brine to a simmer and let it cook for 5 minutes. Add reserved rinds and boil until translucent, which takes about 15-20 minutes.

6. Remove spice pouch and place rinds in quart jars and pour brine over to cover. Let cool on counter for an hour and then place in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

If canning, pack pint or half-pint jars with rind and pour brine over the top leaving ½-inch headspace. Prepare lids and rims for canning and process either size jar for 10 minutes in a boiling waterbath.

Reader Comments (10)

Interesting. I've heard about these for ages, but never seen them. I'd always pictured them as long sticks of rind, not diced. What do you do with them once they are pickled?

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAli

Hi hip girl. I am drying my watermelon as we speak. I sliced the bottom end off so it could stand up. Then I took a good sharp knife and started cutting away the green . Just like you do sometimes with an orange. So then I cut the melon in quarters and sliced each into 1/4 (more or less) triangle slices. A quick little cut and I had the white rind off to pickle. The slicing went very easy since there was no green rind anymore, I have never pickled rind before and don't even know if we will like it.. But it is just fun to try. Thanks for your great blog.

July 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteromaria

Nice Omaria! Love that you came up with a method to suit you. Let me know how you like them. Thanks for your note.

July 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterKate

The dried watermelon is fantastic. It was not so sweet by itself, but dried it is just delicious! Have to o to the store to et an other one and to get pickling salt. Have icecream salt ,sea salt, iodized salt but no pickling salt. So here we go !

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteromaria

Just made my first batch of these and used a vegetable peeler to take the green part off the watermelon rind. It left plenty of the white part behind, and cut the prep time in half!

I divided the watermelon into eighths, cut out the red part with a boning knife, then flipped the rind over and laid it flat to peel. It took just 20 minutes to break down a 10 pound melon.

Hope this helps!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Is pickling salt the same as pickling lime or alum

August 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterilene Rena

Hi Ilene,
No, pickling salt is just a fine grain salt that doesn't have any additives. Pickling lime/alum are chemical compounds that some people use to get firmer pickles (not me). If you can't find pickling salt, use any fine-grain non-iodized salt or even kosher salt.

August 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterKate

I grew up on my Grandma's watermelon pickles. We would eat them alongside other things like crudités and olives and such. They are sweet and a wonderful taste from my past. I can't wait to try this recipe!

August 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternora

Getting late in the season and wondering if I can pickle green watermelons. Does any one have a recipe for doing this?

September 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKay p

Hey Kay, I think you'd be fine to use this recipe for pickling green watermelons since the rind is not typically delicious even when ripe. You're essentially adding flavor to an unused portion, so the greenness wouldn't really be an issue in my opinion. Let me know if you try it!

September 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterKate

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