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What is Pickled Watermelon Rind?

A bowl of fenugreek seeds.
Yellow watermelon, which can be used to make pickled watermelon rind.
Spices like turmeric are often used in pickling recipes.
Ginger root is used to make pickled watermelon rinds.
Watermelon.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 July 2014
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Pickled watermelon rind makes great use of what many of us simply throw away, which are the rinds left over after we eat pink or yellow watermelon fruit. Though many identify this savory treat with American Southern cuisine, recipes for this unusual pickle exist in many cultures. In particular much of Eastern Europe and Asia have recipes for pickled watermelon rind. In the US though, we are more likely to think of this dish as Southern food.

There are many recipes for pickled watermelon rind. Much of this variation centers on the different spices and herbs used to add flavor in the pickling process. Potential spices, herbs, and other flavorful elements include allspice, cinnamon, cloves, dried red chiles, fenugreek seeds, ginger root, mint, mustard seeds, tamarind extract and turmeric.

Most recipes call for much of the green exterior of the rind to be peeled since some of it doesn’t soften adequately and may make pickled melon rind hard to chew. The flesh of the melon requires removal too. In fact, to use up as much of the food as possible, the flesh of the watermelon should be cut off prior to pickling.

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Recipes that draw influence from Southern cooking tend to create sweeter pickles. These would be similar in sweetness to sweet cucumber pickles commonly sold in stores. They usually combine white or apple cider vinegar, sugar, water, and spices like cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Some recipes suggest using green or red food coloring, but this is a matter of preference. If food coloring is not used, peeled rinds are somewhat white to yellow in color and have a translucent look when they are pickled.

There are different suggestions on how to cut the watermelon rind. Some people recommend cutting them into spears. Others recommend cutting the rind into cubes. Cubes may be a little easier to work with and pack in jars. Many recipes also advise soaking the rind overnight in a brine solution prior to pickling it. Common suggestions include boiling the watermelon in salted water, and then adding the other pickling ingredients. Once the fruit has a translucent look, it is packed in sterilized jars.

For those wary of taking on the canning process, pickled watermelon rind can be bought in stores. It may be a little difficult to get this in areas of the world where the dish is not common, however, online options are also available. Many people who make their own pickled watermelon rind, though, contend that homemade is definitely best.

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Discuss this Article

SarahGen
Post 5

Pickled watermelon rind must be the most inventive pickle ever. l like the kind with a touch of cinnamon. I use it in salads along with cheese, fresh or dry fruits.

ddljohn
Post 4

@donasmrs-- I agree with you that homemade watermelon rind pickles are the best. Some commercial pickles have ingredients like corn syrup instead of sugar. I have been able to find all natural an organic watermelon rind pickles at an organic store here in Virginia though. It's made at a local farm and they're just like homemade.

We usually use pickled watermelon rind in wraps as well. It's also good as a side dish. I love how these pickles are crisp and tangy yet also sweet. The flavor is very difficult to explain. One must try it to know.

donasmrs
Post 3

@Ruggercat68-- Have you ever had bacon wraps with pickled watermelon rind?

I used to spend summers at my grandparent's house in South Carolina as a child and one of the treats that my grandmother frequently made were bacon wraps with pickled watermelon rind. She made the pickled watermelon rind herself and they were so sweet and delicious.

I agree that those who have not grown up eating this delicacy may find it odd. I personally love it and crave it all the time. I bought a jar of it recently online. It was good but nothing beats my grandmother's pickled watermelon rind. Unfortunately she's no more. I think I need to start making them myself because I want my kids to grow up eating them too.

Ruggercat68
Post 2

@RocketLanch8- I've tried pickle watermelon rind a few times and I'd have to say it's an acquired taste. I found it at an Amish community in Tennessee and took home a few jars. One jar would have been plenty.

RocketLanch8
Post 1

I've lived in the Deep South for over 30 years and I have yet to see anyone eat pickled watermelon rind. I've seen it in jars on a few grocery store shelves, but they don't seem to be very popular. I think they were more common back in the days when canning and pickling were regular chores on farms. Watermelon rind was readily available, and pickling was a common way to preserve food during the winter months. Now it's more of an occasional treat the locals bring out for the tourists.

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