A Southern Classic: Pickled Watermelon Rinds

July 26, 2008

As a Pacific Northwesterner, pickled watermelon rinds were as foreign to me as fried okra, thus we never saved the rinds for pickling as they do in the South. Into the garbage they went. Who knew turning a typically thrown out piece of food could be transformed into something so delicious. I was well into adulthood when I had my first pickled watermelon rind, and I quickly became hooked. Expecting a salty pickle flavor, I was pleasantly surprised by their soft, sweet and sour flavor. For all you Yankees who have never had pickled watermelon rinds, give them a try. Depending on where you live you can get them in supermarkets or gourmet food stores; you can also purchase them on Amazon.com. If you'd like your own home-made batch, try this recipe.

Pickled Watermelon Rind
I prefer pickled rinds without any added food coloring, but many recipes call for either green or red.

  • watermelon rind, 4 quarts of 1-inch chunks
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 1 quart white or cider vinegar
  • 8 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 10 to 12 3-inch cinnamon sticks, broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

Remove green skin and remaining pink from watermelon rind, then cut into 1-inch chunks to measure 4 quarts. Place rinds in a non-metal bowl and add the water and salt. You may need to add more water in order to completely cover the rinds. Cover and soak overnight in refrigerator.

Drain and cover with clear water, then transfer to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 30 minutes; drain and set aside.

In the same large saucepan, pour vinegar; add sugar. Tie spices in a cheesecloth bag and add to vinegar mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes.

Add the drained watermelon rind. Boil gently until rind is transparent and syrup is slightly thickened, about 45 to 55 minutes.

Remove spices and spoon into hot sterilized 1-pint jars, leaving about 1/2-inch head space, and seal. Process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes about 4 pints.



Pips's picture

How funny, Sheri, I landed on your site after a google search to find pickled watermelon rinds. Thanksgiving appetizers and all. :-) Hope you are well!

Barry's picture

I miss eating watermelon rinds at holiday dinners. My grandparents always served when I was a kid. Now that they are gone I can't ask what the origins of this tradition is and why they were only served at a Thanksgiving or Chistmas dinners. I think I'll try your recipe and relive the memory.

Folk wisdom and our witless scientists | AMERIKA's picture

[...] the Southern part of the United States, pickled watermelon rinds have been a favorite snack for years, but are also known as a folk remedy for underperforming [...]

Ryan's picture

Pickled watermelon rind is awesome but it is certainly not a Southern thing. It is a Pennsylvania Dutch thing. Southerners just claim it kinda like grits, mac n cheese, liver mush, potato salad, cobbler, banana pudding ect ect, none of which have their origins in the south. It's like claiming that Italian food is a New York thing.

Annette's picture

I agree. I am from Amish area in Pennsylvania and this has always been around and prepared by years and years and I am not young and my grandmother and the women she grew up with made this. I also am a caregiver who is 93 and he asks for this all the time, but it is never like his Mother made he says. He is a Yankee to the highest degree as a New Englander.