Pickled Watermelon Rind

A summertime delicacy in the South.

Pickled Watermelon Rind
Photo: Caitlin Bensel, Food: Victoria Cox, Props: Kathleen Varner
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
20 mins
Yield:
Serves 16 (serving size: about 1/4 cup)

During the summertime, there's one combination that divides Southerners into two distinct camps: watermelon and salt. There are the Southerners who swear by salting their watermelon, and those who can't stand the thought.

And it's true: When the big, bright, ripe watermelons hit the farmers' market, Southerners either whip out the salt shaker or shove it far, far back on the shelf. But if you thought that was the only interesting way that Southerners will be eating watermelon this summer, think again—because it's prime time to break out the pickled watermelon rind, too.

Add this pickled watermelon rind to your summer relish tray, slide it next to a platter of deviled eggs at the cookout, or throw it on a crisp summer salad with crumbled, thick-cut bacon. Sweet and spicy, pickled watermelon rind is one of those summertime delicacies we Southerners hold dear, and this is the simplest pickled watermelon rind recipe to try.

Test Kitchen Tip: Make sure to look for smaller, ripe watermelons to ensure a tender rind, and cook the rind in well-salted water to help soften it.

Ingredients

  • 1 small (about 4 lb.) seedless watermelon

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 4 medium garlic cloves, smashed

  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice

  • 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice

  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

Directions

  1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove outer layer of green peel from watermelon; discard peel. Cut watermelon in half lengthwise, then cut in half crosswise. Cut each quarter into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Using a paring knife, remove pink watermelon flesh from rind, leaving a thin 1/4-inch layer of pink flesh attached to rind. (Reserve removed watermelon flesh for another use.)

  2. Place rind and salt in a medium pot; add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high; boil until rind is tender, about 3 minutes. Drain; set aside until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Divide rind evenly among 2 sterilized 1-pint jars.

  3. Place vinegar, sugar, garlic, pickling spice, allspice, peppercorns, and 1 cup water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over high. Boil, stirring often, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Pour over rind in jars; let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Seal and refrigerate at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks.

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