Maybe I’m not alone here, but as a canner/pickler I often get the question, “Erin, why don’t you try pickling this!?” The majority of the time I’m fully up for the challenge. Sometimes I tend to put it off, because either it sounds weird, or I’m just not interested in having 6 pints of something I’m not so into on my shelf. Case and point, preserved lemons, a friend suggested it, I put it off, I finally got around to it, they were weird, I tossed them after 3mos, end of story. Years ago while going through the kitchy colonial Williamsburg, VA, I tasted pickled watermelon rind. Upon 1st taste, the sweet, candy like watermelon rind pickle repelled me. Not surprisingly, literally 1 week a later, again a friend propositioned me, “Hey have you ever made pickled watermelon rind?” Nope! Six years later here we are. Last weekend as I was shopping for the 4th of July I grabbed a large watermelon. We didn’t get around to eating it on the day, so I figured it was time.
I got a bit caught up during my research as I wanted to cut down on the sugar while at the same time make them safe to can. Most recipes that I found were for quick fridge pickles with varying amounts of sugar. Other watermelon rind pickle recipes meant for canning had higher sugar content. I went with a slight modification/addition on Paula Dean’s recipe by adding 2 jalapeño peppers (seeds in). I found that it took quite a while for the rinds to turn translucent. The result: a sweet, salty, spicy watermelon pickle with a slight gummy candy consistency. Enjoy!
- 10 cups watermelon, white part of rind only, cut 1-inch cubes or strips
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 jalapeno peppers
- 3-1/2 cups white sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1/2 teaspoon assorted color whole peppercorns
- 3 cups white vinegar
- 2 gallons water, divided
- In a large bowl or pot, stir salt into one gallon of water until dissolved. Add watermelon rinds and let sit overnight. Drain off water and thoroughly rinse rinds.
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook watermelon rinds with remaining one gallon of water. Cook the rinds until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Return the saucepan to heat and add vinegar, sugar and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add watermelon rinds and cook until transparent, about another 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While rinds are still hot, use a slotted spoon to transfer into the hot sterilized jars. Pour vinegar solution over rinds leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
- Wipe rims,apply lids and rings (finger tight). Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water bath and allow to cool on the counter overnight.