Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Watermelon Pickles Recipe

This recipe was given to me by my mother Anne.  She was visiting with friends while living in Albuqurque, NM in the 60's.  The young couple brought watermelon pickles as a hostess gift to my mother. This began the tradition of canning Watermelon Pickles in our home.

As with most family recipes that get handed down to the next generation, I've made a few additions to the original recipe.   I can’t remember when I first ate a Watermelon Pickle but I do remember the distinctive flavor. Popping open a jar of these delightfully crisp pickles and smelling the combination of clove, cinnamon and ginger was like a bite of summer in a jar. Biting into the crisp freshness of the watermelon rind and hearing that crunch then tasting the richness of the pickle, made our mouths dance with delight.

As kids we chose to just eat them straight from the jar but they pair well with many main dishes. Try serving them with a hot curried chicken and rice dish or as an accompaniment to a leg of lamb. The flavor is strong and sweet so it takes a very hearty dish to stand up against the robust flavors.

Watermelon Pickles
Recipe from Anne Stone

First Brine

1 large seedless watermelon
2 quarts cold water
6 Cups sliced and peeled watermelon rind
4 Tablespoons Kosher or Sea Salt
2 Tablespoons pickling Spice

Choose a large seedless watermelon and cut in half. Remove all the flesh leaving just a bit of red flesh on the rind. Cut off the green skin and cut rind into 2-3 inch strips. In a large bowl place 6 cups of rind into 2 quarts of cold water, add remaining ingredients and let soak 5-6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Rinse the rind in a large colander rinsing off as much of the pickling spice as possible

Second Brine.

1 whole fresh ginger thinly sliced
Cold water

In a large stock pot cover rind with cold water, add the sliced ginger and cook for 30 minutes or until fork tender. Drain ginger water keeping the ginger flesh with the rind.

5 Cups water
4-6 cinnamon sticks broken in half
¼ cup whole lemon with peel thinly sliced
¼ cup real lemon juice
2 Tablespoons whole cloves
4 Cups sugar
2 Tablespoons candied ginger

To make syrup combine 5 cups water, watermelon rind, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, 4 cups sugar, sliced lemon, and candied ginger. Gently boil for 30 minutes

Pack in jars
24 -6 ounce sterilized canning jars, hot from the water bath

Using a pair of tongs gently remove the flesh of the watermelon rind, lemon peel and ginger and place in sterilized jars. Using funnel ladle or pour hot syrup over the rind leaving ¼ inch at the top of the jar free. Wipe rims with a damp paper towel to clean any spilled food to ensure a tight seal.  Cover with lids tightly and boil filled jars in water bath for 15 minutes. Remove to a clean hand towel and let stand until you hear a distinctive "pop" or "ping" sound.  It can take up to 24 hours for a proper seal on some jars, so don't be afraid if you don't hear the popping sound right away.  If by chance, one of the jars doesn't seal (push the top of lid and if it moves up and down it's not sealed) . Refrigerate  and enjoy right away with your family and friends. You can also Reprocess a unsealed  jar by placing a new heated lid on the jar and reheating per the recipe instructions.
Makes 18 to 24 jars Print Friendly and PDF


  1. I've heard about this pickle but never come across it before. It seems a very thrifty use for the leftover rind that usually gets tossed away. That's the essence of canning isn't it, making the most of what you've got. It's not watermelon time over here in Australia as it's the middle of winter and snowing in the mountains, but when the weather warms up, I'll have a crack at this.

    Nice blog btw, there just aren't enough on preserving.

  2. Thanks Neil,

    When your seasons change I hope you get the chance to try my recipe.

    When picking a melon, try to find one that is less ripe. They seem to have more white flesh on the rind and the pickles turn out much better. When the rind is too thin the pickles lose some of the distinctive crunch.

    I look forward to hearing what you think about my Watermelon Pickle Recipe.

  3. I like this recipe however, no apple cider vinegar? I've made these many times, try to use new recipes but I'm leary of pickles not having acid 5%, lemon in the quantity you have doesn't give it enough to sustain canning. I modified your recipe (I like Ginger) to add 2 C. Apple Cider vinegar and 3 C. water and added Orange slices to the bottoms of my jars for presentation and added one cinnamon stick in each jar.

    1. Hi Randi,

      Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

      One of my favorite things about canning is the ability to modify and adjust recipes. Your additions and modifications sound delightful, and I'm sure look beautiful as well.

      Be assured, if all protocols for sterilization and canning procedures are followed, there is no need for 5% vinegar however, it can be added if you prefer.

      The lemon juice is added more for flavor than preservation. I use vinegar in other pickle recipes but don't like the taste when canning watermelon pickles. Watermelon pickles made without vinegar last up to two weeks in the refrigerator after being opened however, they never seem to last past a few minutes in our house.

      Canning vegetables, such as green beans, squash, potatoes and others that have low acidity, vinegar is not needed to preserve, only a sterile seal.

      I hope you have the opportunity to try my method and let me know how you like the flavor compared to that made with vinegar.

      Please visit me at my new blog home @ Word Press address:


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