Pickled Watermelon Recipe

Yes, this recipe is for pickled watermelon, but don’t go running for the hills just yet! The results are weird, but surprisingly tasty. This may just be one of the more unique recipes you experiment with.

So many people love watermelon and it’s devoured in mass quantities every summer. Personally, I love watermelon that is freshly cut from a whole melon. I almost never buy the pre-cut stuff at the grocery store because I feel like it just isn’t as sweet or flavorful. This leaves me with a problem because unless you have a party, a whole watermelon is just too much to eat by myself or even with another person. That means leftover watermelon, which is great, but it doesn’t always stay fresh very long. Even if you can eat a whole watermelon, almost everyone throws out the rinds!

After buying a small whole watermelon towards the end of the summer the idea of pickling the extra pieces popped into my head. After a little research, I saw that most people try pickling the rinds instead of the actual flesh of the melon. That made sense considering that the red part would probably disintegrate after being immersed in liquid for a few days. I also figured that a sweet pickling mixture would go better with the watermelon than a more savory mixture. With fall on the horizon, I focused on trying some typical pie spices like cinnamon and ginger to take advantage of the watermelon’s sweetness as well as the season.

The results were far more interesting and fun than I imagined. The pickled watermelon rinds first taste a lot like sweet cinnamon with a bit of ginger, but then after biting into the crunchy rind it finishes with a tangy, salty bite. A perfect marriage of sweet and sour where one wouldn’t expect to find it. This may not be everyone’s go-to form of watermelon, but it is a fun way to spice up a dish or an occasion with something different. More importantly, it’s a great way to use up all of the watermelon after eating the fruit’s interior!

Please be advised that this is not a canning recipe and the watermelon is cold pickled. The jar needs to be refrigerated at all times when not in use!

Makes about 4 cups of pickled watermelon at 270 calories total.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a small watermelon or 1/4 a large watermelon (about 180 calories)
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 1.25 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (90 calories)

Equipment

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp filet knife
  • 32 oz. (4 cups) Canning or Pickling Jar
  • Cup, tablespoon, and teaspoon measurement tools
  • Large bowl to keep the inside of the watermelon for later use or eating

Directions

  1. Put the kosher salt, sugar, ginger, and cinnamon in a pickling/canning jar.
    Man Fuel - food blog - Spices for Pickling Watermelon
  2. Mix the apple cider vinegar and cold water in a measuring cup. Then add in 1 cup of liquid to the jar containing the spices before covering and shaking the jar vigorously to mix all of the ingredients.
    Man Fuel - food blog - Pickling Watermelon
  3. Set aside the jar until you’ve finished cutting up the watermelon.
  4. Cut a small watermelon in half. Set aside one half and cut the remaining half in half again.
    Man Fuel - food blog - Watermelon
  5. Cut 1-inch thick slices of the first quarter. Carefully remove the interior red part of the watermelon while leaving a very thin layer (maybe 1/4 inch) of the red part attached to the rind.
  6. After removing the interior of the watermelon, use the knife to cut off the dark green outer part of the rind. Your cuts don’t need to be perfect, but you want to keep only the white part of the watermelon with a small amount of red still on it. After removing the thin outer green layer, cut the rinds into 2-inch long pieces.
    Man Fuel - food blog - Watermelon Rinds for Pickling
  7. Place each small piece of rind in the pickling jar as you go.
  8. After filling the jar up to 1/4 of an inch from the top with rinds, add in the rest of the liquid until all of the watermelon rinds are covered. If you need to make more of the vinegar and water mixture or if you have a little left over, that is fine. Just adjust accordingly for how much watermelon you have or how large the jar is.
  9. Cover the jar and place in the fridge for 2 or more days.
    Man Fuel - food blog - Pickled Watermelon
  10. After two days, the pickled watermelon is ready! Serve as a sweet, salty, and tangy side to a grilled dish or on its own just to surprise your friends! Try some of it diced up in a vinegar-based coleslaw or chopped over a green salad or fruit salad!
    Note: One serving suggestion is that if you feel like the watermelon is too tangy for your taste, then remove some from the jar and immerse it in plain cold water shortly before you serve it. The water can dilute some of the pickling and take away some of the bite.

    Man Fuel - food blog - Pickled Watermelon Rinds
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