This recipe is all about my mom. Just like I can’t go through Christmas without making her German anise cookies, it just doesn’t feel like summer without her watermelon pickles. That’s what we always called them, but they are actually pickled watermelon rind. These are sweet with just a hint of spice. Delicious when cut up and used as pickle relish. I would serve these with my German potato salad and maybe sloppy joes, both very mom dishes.
It was on a hot summer day like this one, once all five kids had demolished an entire watermelon, that mom would pull out the spices and make pickles from the rind. I never thought anything of it, but now I know that this is one of the ways my mom was special. She had an intense thriftiness born out of the Depression, but was also gifted in the kitchen. Plus she had five kids to feed.
Here’s to you, mom.
Watermelon rind pickles
Makes 2-3 cups of pickles (exactly the amount of cut rind you have)
1 lb. 4 oz. (600 g) watermelon rind (about 1/8 of a very large watermelon)
3 T. (15 g) kosher or sea salt
1 C. (235 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 C. (235 ml) brown rice syrup, agave syrup, or honey
1 T. (5 g) whole cloves
1 T. (5 g) whole allspice
3 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
Prep the watermelon rind by peeling the green thick skin. Cut up into smallish cubes. Once you have cut it, trim off any pink flesh from the inside edge. (A tinge of pink is okay, but you want the white, firm flesh for these pickles.)
In a large pot, add a fresh quart (one liter) of filtered water, the vinegar, syrup, and the spices. Stir well to combine. Add the drained rind. Bring just to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 45-60 minutes.
Taste. The pickles should be tender but not mushy. Let cool completely.
Store in a covered glass container in the refrigerator, covered in the pickling liquid. Check out these other healthy recipes on Diet, Dessert, and Dogs.
- Don’t sweat the amounts of the rind. You can have more or less than this and it will work fine. If it really seems like you have too much rind for the liquid (it should be covered in the pan), then double the water, vinegar, syrup, and spices.
- Peeling and prepping the rind can be tiresome, or a Zen meditation. I go for Zen.
- When you are finished, mince some up and store with pickling liquid for fresh pickle relish.
- Compost everything you don’t end up pickling, including the spice bag contents when you are done.