Watermelon Rind Pickles

Watermelon Crop Information

  • by Gabriele Gusmini and Todd C. Wehner
  • Department of Horticultural Science
  • North Carolina State University
  • Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

The use of watermelon to make rind pickles is a small but interesting segment of the home gardening sector. Homeowners and small industries use the leftover watermelon crop, especially from cultivars having thick and crisp rind, to produce pickles.

The watermelon fruit consists of the exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp. The endocarp is the seed-containing part that is consumed as food, and the mesocarp and exocarp are usually referred to as the rind. The rind is used for making pickles after removing the thin exocarp, leaving the crisp, white mesocarp.

Many obsolete cultivars were discontinued from use in the market because of their thick rind, so they would be obvious candidates for use in making watermelon pickles. Some of those old cultivars are still used by home gardeners and heirloom collectors, and seeds are available from seed companies. ‘Tom Watson’, ‘Georgia Rattlesnake’, and ‘Black Diamond’ are three heirloom cultivars with good flavor, attractive rind pattern and color, and thick rind.

In addition, many hybrids currently cultivated (pdf version) for fruit production by commercial growers have rind that is thick enough for pickle production. Cubes of 10 mm per side can be cut from most of the hybrids tested, thus allowing the pickling of the rind of many modern cultivars, including seedless watermelons.

Heirloom cultivars for watermelon rind pickles

  • Thin Rind (not recommended for pickle production)
    • Allsweet
    • Cream of Saskatchewan
    • Crimson Sweet
    • Early Arizona
    • Early Canada
    • Golden Midget
    • Mickylee
    • New Hampshire Midget
    • Petite Sweet
    • Sweetheart
    • Sugar Baby
    • Yellow Doll
  • Medium Rind (may be used for pickle production)
    • Calhoun Gray
    • Charleston Gray
    • Dixielee
    • Fairfax
    • Georgia Rattlesnake
    • Mardi Gras
    • Mountain Hoosier
    • Regency
    • Sun Gold
    • Tendergold
    • Tastigold
  • Thick Rind (best candidates for pickle production)
    • Carolina Cross #183
    • Cobbs Gem
    • Florida Favorite
    • Garrisonian
    • Malali
    • Moon & Stars
    • Navajo Sweet
    • Smokylee
    • Stone Mountain
    • Tendersweet Orange Flesh
    • Tom Watson
    • Weeks North Carolina Giant

Favorite recipe (courtesy of Mrs. R. B. Edwards, Siler City, NC)

  • Ingredients
    • 1.8 kg (4 pounds) of watermelon rind without green skin and cut in 12 x 12 x 12 mm (0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 inch) cubes
    • 4 L (1 gallons) of cold water
    • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of favorite pickling spices, tied in a cheesecloth bag
    • 1.5 L (3 pints) of vinegar (5% acetic acid)
    • 1.4 kg (3 pounds) of sugar (1 brown: 1 white)
    • 44 ml (3 tablespoons) of alum (potassium aluminum sulfate)
  • Instructions
    • In the evening, dissolve alum in the cold water
    • Add the rind cubes and let stand over night
    • In the morning exchange old for fresh water and let stand for 3 more hours
    • Cook until the rind cubes become tender, then add all other ingredients and boil gently until the rind cubes are clear
    • Remove the spices bag, pack in jars with the hot juice over the rind cubes
    • Seal and sterilize the jars by boiling them

More recipes can be found at the following links

Watermelon Rind Pickle Recipes on Google.com
Watermelon Rind Pickle Recipes on Yahoo.com