Old-Fashioned Watermelon Rind Pickles

Watermelon rind pickles recipe

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  • Total: 80 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 55 mins
  • Soak Time: 8 hrs
  • Yield: 5 Half-Pints (10 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
194 Calories
0g Fat
49g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 5 Half-Pints (10 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 194
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2835mg 123%
Total Carbohydrate 49g 18%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 1g
Calcium 31mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If you thought the watermelon rind was just for the compost bin, think again! This old-fashioned recipe from down south takes what we usually discard when eating this summer fruit and makes it into a sweet treat. So the next time you are cubing watermelon for a salad or making it into melon balls, save the rind to make these pickles. (Just make sure you are not using leftover rind from watermelon pieces people have eaten!)

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds watermelon rind
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 4 cups water (divided)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon stick (broken up)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1/2 lemon (thinly sliced)
  • Optional: 5 maraschino cherries (halved)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for watermelon rind pickles
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Trim the dark green and pink parts from watermelon rind.

    Trim dark green
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck 
  3. Cut rind into 1-inch cubes and measure out 7 cups.

    Cut rind
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Put the watermelon rind in a large container with the pickling salt and 3 cups water. Add more water to cover the rinds, if necessary. Soak overnight.

    Watermelon in container
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Drain and rinse watermelon rind.

    Watermelon rind
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Cover rind with cold water in a large saucepan. Cook just until tender - about 10 minutes.

    Cover
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  7. Meanwhile, in a nonreactive 6- to an 8-quart kettle or Dutch oven, combine sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, whole cloves, and 1 cup water. Simmer the mixture 10 minutes.

    Spices in dutch oven
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  8. Strain and discard the solids.

    Strain and discard
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  9. Then pour the liquid back into the pan. Add drained watermelon rind, lemon slices, and maraschino cherries, if using. Simmer the mixture until watermelon rind is translucent, about 30 minutes.

    Put back in pot
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  10. Fill hot half-pint jars with watermelon rind and syrup mixture, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids.

    Fill jars
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  11. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.​

    Process
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  12. Let jars cool on a rack.

    Let jars cool
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  13. Serve and enjoy!

    Jar
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Tip

  • Although optional, the cherries in this recipe add a little extra color and flavor to these old-fashioned watermelon rind pickles. You do need to plan ahead with this recipe as the rinds have to soak overnight in the brine.

Watermelon Health Benefits

We know that watermelon is the ideal refreshment on a hot summer day, but did you know that the watermelon rind is the healthiest part of the fruit? Packed with vitamins and minerals, the rind offers lots of nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin A, as well as potassium and magnesium. It is also very beneficial if you are pregnant, as its natural sugars have been shown to alleviate morning sickness and dehydration. The rind can also reduce swelling as well as heartburn, common ailments during the nine months. In addition, the amino acids in the rind help to relax the blood vessels, reducing muscle cramps which are common in the third trimester. So, if you are expecting, this recipe for old-fashioned watermelon rind pickles is ideal to have on hand to enjoy once in a while.