Pickled Watermelon Rinds: A No-Waste Summer Snack
Quick-pickled watermelon rinds are perfect for snacking when the weather gets hot. Tangy, sour, and sweet, this is a great starter recipe if you're new to pickling.
Nothing says summer like a big wedge of cool, refreshing watermelon. But wait—before you toss that rind in the compost bin, think again! Pickled watermelon rinds are an easy way to turn what was once garbage into a salty and sweet no-waste summer snack. These refreshing pickled watermelon rinds have the slight crunch that you'd expect from typical pickle spears.
This version of the old-fashioned Southern treat is made with simple ingredients and uses the refrigerator to do the pickling. The next time you're enjoying a slice of the summery fruit, save the rinds and give this pickle a try.
Easy Pickled Watermelon Rinds
Pickling these watermelon rinds is a breeze; all it takes is a melon and a handful of ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. Unlike typical pickled recipes, these watermelon rinds use a simple stovetop method instead of traditional canning and are stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours to reach pickled perfection.
Choose a Melon With a Thick Rind
When shopping for a watermelon, rarely do we think about the rind—the crunchy, white flesh in between the thin, green peel and the red flesh. These days many watermelons are cultivated with thinner rinds, but for pickling purposes, you want to choose a watermelon that has a thicker rind.
There are over 50 varieties of watermelon grown worldwide, which vary in size, shape, color, and sweetness and are typically divided into four categories: icebox, picnic, seedless, and yellow-orange fleshed.
According to the Department of Horticulture Science at N.C. State University, here are some varieties with thicker rinds that are perfect for pickling:
- Carolina Cross #183
- Cobbs Gem
- Florida Favorite
- Moon & Stars
- Navajo Sweet
- Stone Mountain
- Tendersweet Orange Flesh
- Weeks North Carolina Giant
Prepping the Rind for Pickling
Use a sturdy vegetable peeler to carefully remove the skin from the rind, then cut it into smaller slices and use a chef's knife to carefully cut any remaining fruit away from the rind, leaving a small amount of pink flesh for color.
The watermelon rinds are sliced into spears for this recipe, but they will taste delicious when cut into any shape you prefer. Coins, crinkle cut coins, long sandwich slices, or spears—the choice is yours!
Customize Your Brine
This recipe uses a simple pickling blend of allspice, cinnamon and apple cider vinegar for a classic sweet and sour pickled taste. You can make your own pickling spice blend or use a store-bought mix.
Or adjust the seasonings for your own take. Here are some options for additions and substitutions.
- White vinegar—perfect for all pickling recipes
- Rice vinegar—adds a sweet and tart flavor
- Crystallized ginger—offers a sweet and spicy kick
- Cherries—provides an added level of sweetness
- Soy sauce—if you prefer an unami flavor
- Jalapeños—for a spicy version
- Whole cumin seeds gives a smokey essence
- Garlic is perfect for a more savory topping
- Red pepper flakes provides a bit of heat
Ways to Enjoy Pickled Watermelon Rinds
Pickled watermelon rinds make a great appetizer, side for a light lunch, or snack right out of the jar. You can also chop the rinds and add them to salads, sandwiches, or barbecue dishes to provide a sweet and salty contrast.
Want to Pickle Some More?
- Pickled Red Onions
- Pickled Beets
- Jalapeño Bread and Butter Pickles
- Vietnamese Daikon and Carrot Pickles
- Pickled Okra
Wash and dry the jars:
Wash 2 wide-mouth pint jars and their lids in hot, soapy water. Set them aside to dry.
Cut the watermelon and prepare the rind:
Place the watermelon on a flat surface and cut in half lengthwise, then cut in half crosswise. Then slice each quarter into 1/2-inch-wide strips and cut the pink watermelon flesh from the rind, leaving a thin 1/4-inch layer of pink watermelon flesh for color.
Save the watermelon flesh for eating or other recipes; you won’t be using it for this recipe.
Peel the watermelon rind:
Using any vegetable peeler you have on hand, remove the exterior green portion of the watermelon rind so the remaining rind is mostly white, with a little bit of pink flesh on one side.
Pack rind in the jars:
Firmly pack the watermelon rinds into the jars, leaving about 1/2-inch of space at the top.
Make the brine:
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat add the apple cider vinegar, water, vanilla, salt, sugar, pickling spice, allspice, and peppercorns.
Bring to a boil, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.
Pour the brine over the rinds:
If you have a canning funnel, use it here to make it easier to fill the jars. Carefully pour or ladle the hot brine into each jar, filling the jars until the watermelon rinds are covered.
Cool and refrigerate for 24 hours:
Screw on the lids, then let the jars cool to room temperature (about 1 hour). Place them in the refrigerator. Wait at least 24 hours before eating the watermelon rinds in order to let the flavors develop.
Since these pickled watermelon rinds aren't traditionally canned, they can be made and stored in any glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
Refrigerate these pickled watermelon rinds for 1 month unopened, or 2 to 3 weeks after you’ve opened them.
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