Pickled Watermelon Rind

published May 15, 2022
Pickled Watermelon Rind Recipe

Pickled watermelon rind is a sweet summer treat that also helps cut down on food waste.

Makes5 to 6 pints

Prep45 minutes

Cook1 hour 15 minutes

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Pickled watermelon rind in a small glass jar with the lid off, and two other jars in the background.
Credit: Kristina Vänni

Fresh watermelon is one of the most delicious delights of summer. After enjoying watermelon slices, a watermelon salad, or your favorite smoothie, the thick rind is all that’s left behind. This old-fashioned Southern recipe is a zero-waste solution that repurposes the part that is usually discarded and transforms it into a treat that can be a great complement to an appetizer spread, or a unique addition to a salad or wrap.

The process takes a little bit of patience because the tough rind needs to soak in a solution of water and pickling salt overnight to start to tenderize. The next day it is gently boiled to tenderize it even further. Finally, it’s cooked with vinegar, sugar, and spices for additional flavor and zing. After that, the rind and pickling liquid is packed into canning jars and processed in a water bath to preserve a taste of summer all year round.

Credit: Kristina Vänni

What Is Pickled Watermelon Rind Used For?

Pickled watermelon rind can be used in a wide variety of ways. It can be an addition to an appetizer spread, added to a salad, or used as a relish for sandwiches, burgers, or grilled fish. It also makes for a great cocktail garnish.  

How Long Do Pickled Watermelon Rinds Last?

When properly sealed, canned pickled watermelon rinds can last up to one year. 

Pickled Watermelon Rind Recipe

Pickled watermelon rind is a sweet summer treat that also helps cut down on food waste.

Prep time 45 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes

Makes 5 to 6 pints

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    medium watermelon (7 to 7 1/2 pounds)

  • 1/4 cup

    canning or pickling salt, plus more as needed

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 4 1/2 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 2 cups

    distilled white vinegar

  • 2 cups

    water, plus more as needed

  • 11

    (3-inch) cinnamon sticks (they should fit upright in a pint jar), divided

  • 2 teaspoons

    whole cloves

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground allspice


  1. Cut the rind off 1 medium watermelon, leaving a very small amount of pink flesh on the rind. Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel the outer green skin from the rind. Cut the watermelon rind into 1-inch cubes. Measure out 2 pounds of the rind (6 1/2 to 7 cups).

  2. Place the rind in a large non-reactive container. (I used an 8-cup plastic food storage container with a lid.) Add enough cool water to completely cover the rind, measuring the amount you use before you put it in. Add 1/4 cup pickling salt for each quart of water used and stir until dissolved. Cover and let soak at room temperature overnight.

  3. Sterilize 5 to 6 pint canning jars and lids; keep warm until ready to fill. Prepare a water bath canner so the water is boiling and ready to process.

  4. Drain the watermelon rind well. Place in a stainless steel stockpot. Add enough cool water to cover the rind. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Simmer until the rind is tender but not soft, 12 to 14 minutes. Drain well and return the rind to the stockpot.

  5. Thinly slice 1 medium lemon croswise and remove any seeds. Place in a small saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer until the lemon is tender and nearly all the water evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure the lemon doesn’t scorch. Drain off any remaining water.

  6. Add the lemon, 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 2 cups distilled white vinegar, 2 cups water, 4 of the cinnamon sticks, 2 teaspoons whole cloves, and 1 teaspoon ground allspice to the watermelon rind. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until the rind is translucent and the mixture is reduced in volume, 25 to 30 minutes.

  7. Remove the cinnamon sticks and discard. Using a slotted spoon, pack the watermelon rind into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add a fresh cinnamon stick to each jar. Ladle the hot syrup into the jars, covering the rind and and still leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. If needed, add more syrup to maintain the headspace. (Discard any leftover syrup.) Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp paper towel. Apply the lids and bands.

  8. Process the jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. (Start the timer after the water has returned to a boil.) Remove from the water bath canner and let cool for 12 to 24 hours. Check the seals. Store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year. Any jars that did not seal can be refrigerated and used within 1 month.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Once the canning jars have been sealed properly in the water bath, they are shelf stable for up to 1 year. Jars that either didn’t seal or have been opened should refrigerated and the watermelon rinds enjoyed within 1 month.