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Pickled Watermelon Rind

Don’t throw out those rinds!

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In a crystal dish next to the relishes and a mountainous pile of Pimento cheese or pulled straight out of the glass jar and served with ham on a freshly baked biscuit, nothing quite sings the song of American frugality quite like Pickled Watermelon Rind. The part of the watermelon that’s usually discarded is transformed into an edible delight infused with pickling spices and a sweet and tangy brine.

Cornelis Markée/Wiki Commons

Watermelons have a long history and were first cultivated in Africa in 3000 or 4000 BCE and migrated up to the Mediterranean and then into Europe to be grown in certain regions. While people associate the watermelon and Pickled Watermelon Rind with the South, documented records of recipes show up in the Northeast colonies. Watermelon and watermelon rinds recipes are documented in Amelia Simmons’ book American Cookery under the recipe title “The American Citron.” What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking cookbook, published by Abbey Fisher in the 1880s, is another example of watermelon rind being an integral part of utilizing and not wasting the precious watermelon harvest.

While older recipes are less of a pickled rind and more of a super soft candied rind, this recipe is going to go in the slightly crisper direction and create more of a pickle than a soft relish-like rind. After peeling the green outer skin from the rind, slice the rind into 3 to 4-inch-like sticks.

Set the cut-up rind pieces into a pot and cover with salt.

Fill the pot up with water just to cover the rinds. Bring the rinds to boil, drain, and then set the cooked rinds into glass containers.

While the rinds are set aside to cool, prepare the pickling liquid. You can add or subtract as much as you want to the pickling liquid, but the most basic recipe is vinegar, sugar, garlic, and pickling spice. Mix those ingredients alongside one cup of water and cook until it boils and dissolves the sugar.

Pour the pickling liquid over the prepared rinds and let the mixture and rind cool to room temperature before transferring into the refrigerator to get to a nice, chilly temperature.

Pickled Watermelon Rind is a taste of the bountiful summer harvest in an interesting way. The rind cooks down to be slightly tender and soft and is packed full of the flavor from the pickling liquid.

The sort of garlicky, sort-of-vinegary, sort-of-sweet flavors are both competing and complimenting in the best possible way.

Pickled Watermelon Rind can be eaten as is or can be a companion to meat or veggies with an interesting contrast of flavor. Chopped up finely and tossed with other pickled vegetables or olives would make a delicious chutney as well. The possibilities with Pickled Watermelon Rind are more varied than you’d expect.

Before you toss the rind into the compost, try out this recipe, it’ll surely become a quick pickling staple!

Yield(s): Makes about 16 servings

20m prep time

25m cook time

24h inactive

Rated 4.8 out of 5
Rated by 5 reviewers
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you're making mealtime meaningful.
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  • 1 small (about 4 lb) seedless watermelon
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons pickling spice
  1. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the layer of green peel of the watermelon, discard the peel.
  2. Cut the watermelon into quarters and then cut each quarter into 1/2 -inch slices.
  3. Remove the pink watermelon fresh from the rind, leaving a thin 1/4 -inch layer of pink on the rind. Reserve the pink part for another use.
  4. Cut the long strips of watermelon into 3 to 4-inch strips.
  5. In a large pot combine watermelon rind and salt.
  6. Add in water until it covers 1-inch of the rind.
  7. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, boiling until the rind is tender, about 3 minutes.
  8. Drain and let the rind cool for 5 minutes.
  9. Divide the rind among sterilized glass jars, set aside.
  10. In another sauce pot, combine vinegar, sugar, garlic, pickling spice, and 1 cup of water together.
  11. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
  12. Pour the pickling liquid over the rinds.
  13. Let the pickled rinds stay out at room temperature for 1 hour before transferring to the refrigerator to marinate for 1 whole day. This can last refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe Southern Living.