Maybe it’s because our parents or grandparents lived through the Great Depression, but some of us find any kind of waste a bit hard to bear. Take dryer lint, for example. It always seems like there should be something to do with it. Insulation?? Art? Something.
So it is with watermelon rind, something you know if you’ve ever cut up watermelon into cubes, rindless wedges, or melon balls. That green rind seems endless. It’s hard to see all that waste. Or it was, until I remembered, from way back in my childhood, the occasional treat of a watermelon rind pickle, fished out of a small jar. My mother purchased this unusual item only rarely, but I always loved it and craved more.
I decided that I would attempt to make my own watermelon rind pickles, and they tasted just like the ones I remembered from when I was a kid. What practical use do they have? Not much, I’m afraid. I’m sure they could spice up an original cocktail, or be julienned and added to a sweet and sour cabbage salad, but other than that, just serve it alongside meat or chicken as a piquant side note.
Waste Not, Want Not Watermelon Rind Pickles
- 2 lbs. watermelon rind, outer green rind and inner pink flesh, both removed
- 1/4 cup coarse kosher salt
- 4 cups water, divided
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces, enough for one tablespoon
- 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
- 5 maraschino cherries, halved
- Cut the watermelon rind, from which you have removed the outer green rind and inner pink flesh, into 1-inch cubes. You should have 7cups.
- Place the watermelon rind in a large container with the kosher salt and 3 cups of water. If necessary, add more water to cover the rinds. Soak overnight.
- Drain and rinse the watermelon rind.
- Place rind in large saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and then simmer until just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, around 10 minutes.
- While the rind is cooking, combine the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, whole cloves, and 1 cup of water in a nonreactive stock pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Carefully add the drained watermelon rind, lemon slices, and maraschino cherries to the syrup. Simmer until the watermelon rind is translucent, about 30 minutes.
- Fill half-pint jars with the hot watermelon rind and syrup, leaving ½-inch headspace. Close jars with lids.
- Process jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
- Carefully remove the jars to a rack and allow to cool.
- Note: After opening, pickles will keep for a few weeks, refrigerated. Unopened jars of watermelon pickles will keep for at least a year.