This was one of those projects I approached with some trepidation. On one hand, the phrase “watermelon rind pickles” is not exactly yum-inducing. On the other hand….I have yet to meet a pickle I didn’t like.
And we can now add watermelon rind pickles to the “pickles I will devour with abandon” list.
We had about half of a decent-sized watermelon, which I cut up and we snacked on. And since hearing about watermelon rind pickles a few years ago, I feel a little guilty not putting those rinds to use. We do compost them, so it’s not like they go to waste, exactly. But if you can get one more edible use out of them, why not, right?
So I Googled, and I compared recipes, and I ultimately ended up making something of my own based on what I found, what sounded good, and what I had on hand (I wanted to make them NOW, without going to the grocery store.) Also, most of the recipes I came across had what seemed like ridiculous amounts of sugar. I wanted just a hint of sweetness, plenty of sour, and a bit of spicy kick. I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out!
Here’s the recipe I used (this made 2 quarts and 1 pint of pickles).
Watermelon Rind Refrigerator Pickles
- Rinds from 1/2 of a large watermelon, prepared as described below
- 4 cups vinegar (white, apple cider, or white wine would all be good — I used regular white distilled vinegar this time)
- 2 cups of water
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1/3 cup of kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (you could toss a stick or two into the brine, if you have sticks instead of ground)
- 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1. Prepare the rind. If you slice your watermelon into 1-inch slices, that will make prep easy. You want to end up with roughly one-inch chunks for your pickles. Try to leave at least 1/4 inch of the pink watermelon flesh on the rind — this adds nice flavor and really pretty color to your brine. You need to take off the outer green layer of rind. It was really easy to do this by using a regular vegetable peeler to remove the green parts. Do this, and you’re left with slices that look like this:
After you’ve got the slices peeled, then just cut them into roughly 1 to 1.5 inch cubes. TIP: The areas of the rind that have turned yellow are much tougher than the green areas. Avoid using this part, or, if you choose to use the yellow part of the rind, forego the vegetable peeler and use a paring knife instead; you’ll have to remove more of the rind to get down to the softer white part.
Set your cubes aside while you make your brine.
To make the brine, just add your vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a pan that will be large enough to accommodate the brine plus all of your watermelon rinds. Bring this to a boil, stirring regularly to help dissolve the sugar and salt.
Once the brine has reached a boil, add your watermelon rind and bring the mixture up to a boil again. Let it boil for about a minute, then remove it from the heat. Add your cinnamon and red pepper flakes, and let the mixture sit and cool for an hour or so.
Once the mixture is cool enough to handle safely, add the pickles to jars or other containers, adding enough of your brine to cover the pickles completely. Store them in the refrigerator. You can eat them as soon as they’re cool, if you want (and I did….) but they’re even better if the flavors are allowed to meld a bit overnight.
These pickles will keep for about a month. Please note that these are not pantry storage pickles — they need to be kept in the refrigerator and eaten within a fairly short amount of time.
These were SO good. And you can really mess with the recipe quite a bit. I wanted something fast, and many of the traditional recipes recommend making the brine, soaking the rind in it overnight, and then doing a hot water bath process so you can store them in the pantry. I may try that later on. You can also play quite a bit with the spices:
- This recipe, from Kitchen Riffs, adds ginger, and she also has several other recommendations for herbs and spices to use (I want to try mint in one of my next batches.)
- This recipe, from Sumptuous Spoonfuls, adds jalapeno peppers for a little extra kick.
This is definitely a pickle you can tailor to your own tastes. Have fun with it!