Pickled Watermelon Rind to Make in a Jam

sweet pickled watermelon rind

It’s ironic that two ways of preserving food are also synonymous with “difficult.” If you’re in trouble, you’ll say you’re in a pickle or in a jam. Making pickles, however, is easy. My dad can’t boil pasta, but he can make pickled cucumbers and radishes with soy sauce and cilantro. Let vegetables sit in vinegar, salt and/or sugar, and you’ll have a snack to fall back on whenever you’re, er, in a pickle.

Since the summer brings a surplus of watermelon, I used leftover rind that would have gone to the trash. The rind is edible, as long as you peel off the tough skin. By itself, it’s akin to cucumber.

There’s several methods for pickling watermelon rind, some which call for buckets of salt. I chose a vintage Joy of Cooking recipe, because it has sugar instead. The finished product resembles extra crisp, tart apple pie filling. It’s great by itself, but it can also accompany yogurt, ice cream, pancakes, pork chops and hot dogs (finely mince the pickles to make a sweet relish). It’s so good that you might want to buy watermelon just to use up the rind.

Canning and preserving gets a difficult rap because most recipes call for sterilizing the jars and creating a vacuum seal. I use ordinary glass jars and don’t worry about removing the air. The acid, sugar and salt act as natural preservatives, as long as the pickles are left in the refrigerator.

This recipe may be my cheapest one yet. The watermelon rind is essentially free and so is the recipe (I found the book on a giveaway shelf).

Sweet Pickled Watermelon Rind

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking Standard Edition (1973)

Makes about 5 quarts

Rind of 1 large watermelon, about 5 quarts
7 cups sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon

  1. Cut the watermelon rind in strips before peeling. Remove the green skin and pink flesh. Dice into one-inch cubes.
  2. In a large pot of boiling water, parblanch the rind for about five minutes, or until it can be pierced with a fork. Do not overcook. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Bring the sugar, vinegar, cloves and cinnamon just to a boil. Pour the syrup over the rind, making sure the rind is covered. Let stand overnight.
  4. Strain out the syrup into a large pot and reboil. Pour the syrup over the rind. Let stand overnight as before.
  5. On the third day, sterilize several glass jars and lids by boiling them for 15 minutes. Arrange the jars sideways, allowing the water to flow in. Using tongs, remove the jars and lids. Allow to air dry on clean paper or cloth towels.
  6. Pack the rind into the jars. Boil the syrup again and pour over the rind till overflowing. Seal and store in the fridge.

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  1. petra said,

    i been rockin’ the watermelon rind pickles too. (you can see mine at http://www.petrajuarez.com). done them bread and butter style mostly, some curry ones too. haven’t done them just sweet though, i’ll have to give that a try.

    July 17, 2007 at 10:58 am

  2. betsy said,

    Thanks for the recipe – I’ve been wanting some watermelon rind pickles and haven’t been able to find any in our local grocery stores. Your comment about your father’s cucumber & radish with soy sauce and cilantro pickles also has me very curious. Do you have a recipe for them, too, and if so, would you post it? Thanks so much!!

    July 24, 2007 at 6:07 pm

  3. pink bowl baker said,

    My grandma made watermelon pickles using LorAnn natural cinnamon and clove oil. They are nearly translucent, and they syrup is sparkle-y clear too. She tinted the syrup with green vegetable food coloring, sometimes red instead, and sometimes both in separate batches for her Christmas table and for little Christmas gifts for her church family. I have her recipe and have made them several times, but usually over the course of the three day process of bringing the syrup to a boil and pouring it over the pickles again, by the time I get to the third boiling, there are very few pickles left in the jar, most having been devoured early by my family.

    March 1, 2008 at 11:27 am

  4. Willowdene said,

    Hello, I am really curious about your grandma’s watermelon pickles and would love to try her recipe. I just bought some watermelon for your recipe and am hoping that you will receive this request before the watermelon spoils. Thanks, and I hope they turn out just as good as you make them.

    November 24, 2008 at 5:30 pm

  5. Venita. Bradley said,

    My mother use to make these, but she also added red hot candies. Red hot war” watermelon pickles. Delicious!!!

    August 28, 2017 at 11:55 pm

2 Links to this post

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  2. Say What?!?!?! Pickled Dog Ears?!?!?! « A taste from home…

    […] Say What?!?!?! Pickled Dog Ears?!?!?! Posted on August 20, 2011 by Journey to Understand the Art of Culinary Perfection! For the past 5 days, I have been working on my first batch of Pickled Dog Ears as my family calls them. Before anyone of you call the animal humane society on me, I will explain. NO, these are not really pickled dog ears, but cucumbers that have been peeled, de-seeded, and cut into 1-in pieces, their appearance does look like dog ears. I’m not sure exactly where the name comes from. I have tried researching it on the internet and have yet to find anything about these pickled treats. I have although found a website of a woman, who has used almost the same exact recipe to pickle watermelon rinds, sounds interesting and worth trying!!! Here is her link: http://www.sugoodsweets.com/blog/2007/07/pickled-watermelon/. […]

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