Pickles of the Rind

A week ago a friend of mine had to go out of town, so I had the privilege of watching his affectionate cat, SuperStar.

SuperStar

When I showed up the first day, there was a note that the watermelon on the table was for me. I love watermelon, so I gladly hefted it back home.

As I was carving up the first half, a thought hit me: I’ve never had pickled watermelon rinds. I had no clue what went into them or what they would taste like; however, it was a chance to make something new PLUS I would be using something that normally would end up in the compost heap. That made the frugal part of my brain happy. My water bath canner had been in the closet for more than a month, and I was going through canning withdrawal.  What a great way to fix that – with a new-to-me recipe. I pulled out a ziplock bag and saved those rinds to explore the possibility.

Google told me that the rinds (just the whites) are pickled in a sweet vinegar concoction. With my curiosity piqued, I made them.

Since I wasn’t sure if I would like them, I decided not to make the full three quarts the recipe called for, so I only prepared the rind from half the watermelon.

Half a watermelon

This watermelon happened to have a very thin rind. Good for eating, bad for pickling, at least in bulk, but it would still work. I cut off the pink flesh, then with my peeler I removed all the green, leaving only the white part. I ended up with a quart of rind, which I soaked in a brine over night.

Brined Rinds

After rinsing the rinds, I brought them to a boil to soften them. I then created the pickling solution: Lots of sugar and vinegar, and a little pouch of seasonings – cinnamon stick, whole cloves, and multi-colored peppercorns.

The rinds behaved exactly the way the recipe said they would. I’m used to my canning creations disobeying the laws of thermodynamics, but this was smooth sailing.

Out of the quart of rinds I began with, I ended up with a single, lonely looking jar of pickled rinds, along with a few left over to try.

Canned Pickled Watermelon Rinds

I liked the texture a lot. The taste… Hmmmmm. The rinds basically became a device for carrying the sweet vinegar mixture. What it was lacking was a more powerful flavor of anything other than sweet. Since I did only a quarter batch of the recipe, the seasoning pouch was only half submerged as I was cooking the vinegar mixture. Perhaps if the seasonings had been submerged, more flavor would have come out.

Well, pulling out all the canning supplies for one pint seemed like such a waste. So once the rinds were done, I ran up to Costco and bought the two-pound pack of blueberries. I finished up my morning making jam.

With my canning itch scratched and my jam pantry happier, I put everything away.

How many of you have tried pickled watermelon rinds? or What was the last new-to-you recipe that you tried?

14 thoughts on “Pickles of the Rind”

    1. Thanks, Heather. I like trying new recipes. I must admit, though, that with as much time as it takes to can something, it is really disappointing when it doesn’t turn out at all. At least the fails are few and far between.

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  1. This just caused me to dig through a 2-inch file of family stuff to find my grandmother’s watermelon rind pickle recipe. I have never made it, btw. I see that the ingredients are exactly the same as you describe, and the spices are in very small ratio – only 1/2 tsp of each per pint of vinegar! Of course this is from the 20s and 30s, so maybe palates of the time were more delighted by simple flavors than we are now.
    I have not done canning, it sounds like a big undertaking. The last thing I made was also dealing with excess fruit threatening to go to waste. I had strawberries that had been frozen, thawed, and pretty much turned to mush, so I made a recipe I got from a pop-up on my news website – Strawberry Streusel Shortbread bars. The Internet knows me waaaay too well.

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    1. Well, it is good to know that I hadn’t simply picked a funky recipe. Hopefully you had a good time searching through your Grandma’s recipes. I think you are right that our palates have changed. Have you ever tried candying orange peels? Pretty much the same concept of not a sophisticated collection of flavors. With the latter, I did like that the bitterness of the rind was still there so the sweetness was not too cloying.

      The biggest time sink in canning is bringing a HUGE vat of water to a boil. Other than that, it is pretty much a piece of cake… once you know what you are doing.

      I like to think that it is serendipity when things I need miraculously appear on the internet. I prefer that to the extensive cookies and predictive software, which is much more likely the case.

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  2. Ah, pickled watermelon rind…an old favorite. My father’s mother used to get them all the time and they were quite a treat. I’ve never tried making my own – I don’t think she did, either, because the ones she bought were straight off a little Amish farm or something. Delicious. We certainly eat our fair share of watermelon, so I’m sure I could do it. But. I’m too nervous about the canning process to jump into that world.

    Last new to me recipe was the kohlrabi carrot soup I put up over the weekend. It was a great find!

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    1. Someone who knows about them! I’ve heard about them for years, and this was my first venture. I’m glad I tried it.

      Canning can be fun. I only do things that are really high in acid so I don’t have to worry about food poisoning. With these, you don’t even need to can them. You could make them and then eat them!

      I’ll go check out that recipe! It sounds yummy!

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  3. I don’t think I’ve ever even HEARD of pickled rinds. I’m still having a hard time wondering how a person would think to eat them in the first place. I feel the same way about lobsters or any kind of fish, really.

    But blueberry jam? That I can get into.

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    1. I wonder why people ever would have first tried many foods. Artichoke is my big one. Who would have thought to boil it and them scrape the undersides of the leaves? That’s just weird!

      The blueberry jam did turn out awesome.

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    1. Other than the fact that I would have died as a child from scarlet fever had it not been for antibiotics, I would totally agree with you that I was meant to live in another era!

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  4. Oh, the things you can pickle. Honestly I never heard that you could pickle the rind of a watermelon before so this opened my eyes a little. It would be an interesting experiment. I mean, those are usually the parts you throw away. Why not try it? I’d give it a go.

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    1. This is a recipe I’d seen a lot in much older cookbooks, particularly from the South. I’m really surprised that my grandma never made this for us. What a great way of using up the rind and making a treat!

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