As a Pacific Northwesterner, pickled watermelon rinds were as foreign to me as fried okra, thus we never saved the rinds for pickling as they do in the South. Into the garbage they went. Who knew turning a typically thrown out piece of food could be transformed into something so delicious. I was well into adulthood when I had my first pickled watermelon rind, and I quickly became hooked. Expecting a salty pickle flavor, I was pleasantly surprised by their soft, sweet and sour flavor. For all you Yankees who have never had pickled watermelon rinds, give them a try. Depending on where you live you can get them in supermarkets or gourmet food stores; you can also purchase them on Amazon.com. If you'd like your own home-made batch, try this recipe.
Pickled Watermelon Rind
I prefer pickled rinds without any added food coloring, but many recipes call for either green or red.
- watermelon rind, 4 quarts of 1-inch chunks
- 3 quarts water
- 3/4 cup salt
- 1 quart white or cider vinegar
- 8 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons whole cloves
- 10 to 12 3-inch cinnamon sticks, broken into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
Remove green skin and remaining pink from watermelon rind, then cut into 1-inch chunks to measure 4 quarts. Place rinds in a non-metal bowl and add the water and salt. You may need to add more water in order to completely cover the rinds. Cover and soak overnight in refrigerator.
Drain and cover with clear water, then transfer to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 30 minutes; drain and set aside.
In the same large saucepan, pour vinegar; add sugar. Tie spices in a cheesecloth bag and add to vinegar mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes.
Add the drained watermelon rind. Boil gently until rind is transparent and syrup is slightly thickened, about 45 to 55 minutes.
Remove spices and spoon into hot sterilized 1-pint jars, leaving about 1/2-inch head space, and seal. Process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Makes about 4 pints.