Recipe: Watermelon Rind Pickles

Even though I grew up in Texas, the first time I can remember having watermelon rind pickles was at Fatty Crab in Manhattan. And I remembered really really loving them.

And so when I was paging through Texas Eats — which I extol the virtues of on this post here — that’s one recipe that caught my eye. I’m always throwing out watermelon rinds. Why not go nose-to-tail on fruit, too?

Normally when I cut watermelon, I slice it in half, then put the cut side down and trim off the skin and rind. Like so (if you can imagine that I cut all the way down to the pink):

But I thought, hmm. I’m looking to make spears out of this rind. Maybe it will be better if I cut wedges, and then cut the spears out of them. Like so:

But. As it turns out, my original thinking was better. You can do more pickles, quicker, if you work in batches. Makes sense.

Once you’ve got your watermelon all sliced up, put it in a post with water:

And boil until the pickles are soft but still firm.

Then dump the water and add sugar, vinegar and spices:

Boil, cool and store.

Here’s the recipe:

Pickled Watermelon Rind

Adapted from Robb Walsh’s Texas Eats

I doubled the brine from what Walsh called for, and I had enough for four times the amount of watermelon rind he specified. So I’m upping the quantities here. In case it’s not obvious (and it wasn’t even to me, a pretty experienced cook), remove the green skin from the rind before pickling.

8 cups watermelon rind, green skin removed, some pink flesh still remaining, cut into 1 by 4 inch pieces (or as close to that as you can get)
2 cups water
2 cups distilled white vinegar
5 cups sugar
6 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons mustard seed
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspices berries

Place the cut watermelon in a stockpot and cover it with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 15 minutes, until the rind is tender but still crisp.

Drain the rind and return it to the pot. Add the 2 cups water, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon sticks, mustard seed, salt, cloves and allspice. Bring to a boil, the lower heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the syrup has thicker slightly.

Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer the pickled rind and the syrup to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight before serving. The pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


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