I absolutely love pickles. I make all sorts of them in my kitchen of quite a lot of variety.
When I was touring the South in 1974 and 1975 I came across what I considered to be an oddity coming from a New England upbringing. A Southern Gentleman offered me a plate with what he referred to as watermelon rind pickles. One taste and I was hooked.
Six years in the US Navy and thirty eight years of living in New Jersey making a living as an IT professional and I hadn’t had a watermelon pickle since. Then I move to North Carolina and I saw some at a farmer’s market. They wanted $12 a jar for them and I thought “aw heck… I can make those myself.” Lots of surfing the web, looking at You Tube videos I tried a couple of recipes and began to engineer my own.
Some introduction here. Watermelon rind pickles were originally conceived by folks on the lower rungs of the economic ladder with the “waste not want not” mentality. Certainly the many times my family has brought home a watermelon and I’ve carved it up and we’ve thrown away the rind has caused a bit of conflict in me when I’ve seen that rind either go into the trash or end up in my compost pile. Well… no more.
I’m only going to mention the fermented variety of watermelon rind pickles in passing here. They will be the subject of a more complete article later when the batch I started has matured. In this posting I am going to discuss quick pickle or otherwise known as refrigerator pickled pickled watermelon rind.
Refrigerator Pickling Method
Refrigerator pickles can be ready overnight and some quick pickles are done quicker than that.
How that applies to watermelon rind pickles is the recipe I’m going to supply in this post is for refrigerator watermelon pickles.
Most folks use white vinegar for their watermelon rind pickles. I consider the flavor of white distilled vinegar to be too harsh and in my opinion a bit off-putting. I use either apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar. What I don’t like about apple cider vinegar is it turns the pickles brown due to its own color. I love the taste of apple cider vinegar but if I want to show off the color or colors of what I’m pickling I’ll use the rice vinegar.
To obtain the rind take a watermelon and slice one end off. This allows you to stand the watermelon up on your counter and cut slices out of it. Cut wedges from top to bottom and remove most of the flesh and cube it and set it aside to enjoy later. Using vegetable peeler remove the green skin from the wedges and cut the white rind into bite sized pieces of your choice.
I leave a bit (a lot sometimes) of the pink flesh on the rind as I find that makes them even better.
A word about sugar: I call out for white refined sugar. You want to use raw sugar I won’t get mad at you. I’ve even used brown sugar but some folks don’t like the molasses taste that brown sugar can import. I love that flavor but you do you.
- 4 cups watermelon rind cut into bite sized chunks
- 4 cups Rice Vinegar
- 4 cups Water; filtered or spring water
- 2 cups refined sugar (see article)
- 4 tsp dill weed; dried; divided
- 4 tsp mustard seed; divided
- 4 tsp dill seed; divided
- 4 tsp coriander seed; divided
- 2 tsp cardamom
- 4 cloves garlic; divided
- 8 thin slices fresh ginger root divided
- Harvest the watermelon rind as per instructions in the article. Collect about 4 cups.
- Add vinegar, water, sugar, 2 tsp of the dill weed, 2 tsp mustard seed, 2 tsp dill weed, 2 tsp coriander, cardamom, 2 garlic cloves, 4 ginger slices into a pot and bring to a boil.
- Add the watermelon rind and reduce to a simmer.
- Cook for 5 minutes or until the rind is soft and fully cooked
- While the rind is cooking add the remainder of the spices to the bottom of a sterilized quart mason jar.
- Once the rind is cooked using a spider transfer the rind to the mason jar. Use a pickle packer to maximize the amount of rind fitting the jar
- Ladle the hot pickle liquid over the rinds. Make sure no air remains in the jar.
- Place lid on jar and allow to cool in a draft free area of your kitchen.
- Put into the refrigerator and allow to pickle for 24 hours.
These will keep in the refrigerator for two to four weeks. I wouldn’t know because they never last that long in my house with everybody eating them.