Nose to Tail Watermelon

I hate waste and I love pickles. So preserving the rind of a juicy summer watermelon makes perfect sense to me. I get jars and jars of delicious pickles, crisp pink watermelon cubes, and of course the satisfaction of using every part of the beast. And believe me, a 15-pound watermelon is a beast. This recipe is sweet, spicy, and slightly sour and features some of my favorite flavors – cinnamon, lemon, mustard seed, vinegar. It’s worth getting a whole watermelon just to make these.

Pickled Watermelon Rind

For the rind:

  • 1 15-pound watermelon
  • 8c water
  • 1 Tbs coarse sea salt

For the brine:

  • 2c cider vinegar
  • 1c water
  • 1c turbinado sugar
  • 1 Tbs coarse sea salt
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
  • 1 lemon’s zest, peeled off in long strips
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs brown mustard seed
  • 1 Tbs coriander seed
  • 1 large bay leaf

With a chef’s knife, cut the watermelon into quarters. Slide the knife between the rind and flesh of each quarter the way you’d loosen a cake from its pan. Pull the flesh out in one chunk and reserve for a sorbet, salad, or snack. Use a soup spoon to scrape the remaining flesh from the white part of the rind. Strip the green skin away with a vegetable peeler. Cut the rind into 1-inch squares. Place the rind and 1Tbs salt in a large stock pot and cover with the 8c water. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer about 5 minutes, until the rind begins to turn translucent. Remove from heat, drain well in a colander. Put the cubes into sterilized jars, leaving about 2 inches at the top. (I used one 2-quart jar and two pint jars.)

In another pot, place all the brine ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook just until the sugar and salt dissolve. Ladle the brine and spices over the rind cubes. Cover with 2-piece lids and boil in a water bath for 15 minutes. Or if you don’t care about sealing the jars, leave them on the counter for 3 or so hours until they’re at room temperature, then cover and refrigerate.

The pickles are ready to eat after a day of brining, but their flavors fully develop after a week.



Filed under Fruit, Preserving, Recipe, Side Dish

4 responses to “Nose to Tail Watermelon

  1. Do you just eat these straight out of the jar, or is there anything you like eating them with?

  2. whereimcookingfrom

    I eat these straight from the jar most often, but I also love them sliced thinly in sandwiches. I think they’re particularly good with cheese, and I’ve been having them with a ricotta-like Eastern-European spreadable cheese and whatever bread I have on hand.

    I can also tell they’d be great with barbequed pork or chicken.

  3. ian

    I can confirm that she does hate waste. And love pickles. It’s not just an elaborate put-on.

  4. ilja

    thanks for this wonderful recipe- these watermelons are always so big I never manage to finish them when I just eat them as fruit. so today I made a batch of watermelon jelly and I was extremely happy to find a good use for the rinds as well. even after just a couple of hours soaking in the pickling solution they taste nice!

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