Mystery Shopper Watermelon Rind

Because summer isn’t really over if there’s still watermelon lying around.

What is it? Pickled watermelon rind is a classic Southern preserve that dates back to the Civil War, when the rind was brined and then soaked in vinegar and spice. I think it’s the best summer snack ever, hitting all the right notes: sweet, sour and spicy. It’s refreshing with a twang, and the perfect transition from summer to early autumn.

What do I do with it? Just eating pickled watermelon rind out of hand is a solid choice; I’ll readily admit to sneaking a few pieces right out of the jar on my way through the kitchen. It’s a stunning addition to a cheese tray – try it with a strong Cheddar or fresh goat cheese – and chopped up, it perfectly complements pork, lamb or a meaty fish like halibut or cod. For an easy appetizer, try bacon-wrapped watermelon rind pickles. Use them in crunchy cabbage salads or add a little sass to your sandwiches and wraps by layering a generous dose of the chopped pickles in with the rest of your ingredients.

Pickled watermelon rind can be difficult to find unless you head south, but it's easy to make at home. Some people shave off every speck of fruit before pickling, but I like to leave the red tips on, giving the preserves beautiful color and flavor.

Pickled Watermelon Rind

These pickles pack a punch courtesy of the serrano pepper: If you’d like to tone it down, substitute a fresh jalapeño or Fresno chile for half the heat.

Yields | 2 32-oz canning jars |

  • 1½ cups white wine vinegar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ¹⁄₃ cup candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp allspice berries
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2½ lbs watermelon rind, dark skin peeled, ¼-inch red flesh left on, diced into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced into thin rounds

| Preparation | In a large saucepan over high heat, add vinegar, water and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Add ginger, cinnamon sticks, salt, allspice berries and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and add watermelon rind; set aside to cool for 30 minutes. Divide serrano rounds between 2 32-ounce canning jars; divide watermelon rind and other ingredients evenly between jars. Pour liquid over rind until covered and let cool to room temperature; seal lids tightly and refrigerate.

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Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

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