Watermelon Pickle Recipe (with cucumber amendments)

I love watermelon pickles.  My biggest goal of the summer is to coll87789287ect the best watermelon rinds that I can and make them into yummy, luscious sweet pickles to soothe my soul in the wintertime.

However, it seems to me that the watermelons these days are bred to have skinny rinds and there is NO rind left of any decent sort to make into pickles.  A shame!  A travesty!  How can we have those delicious pickles if there are no rinds to use?  I managed to get a total of three (count them, THREE) pints of pickles last year and they were a sorry sight to see, skinny little pickles, ashamed to show their heads against the fat ones in the past.

And to top off that tragedy, my two granddaughters had a taste of watermelon pickles and fell in love with them!  What to do?  How could I solve this problem?

I tried growing watermelons of my own – heritage ones that should have fat rinds but none of them grew.  So it was back to the drawing board … NOW what should I do?

I was, just this summer, working on sweet and dill cucumber pickles when a light went on in my brain.  What are cucumbers?  What are watermelons?  They are closely related, are they not?  Well, AREN’T they?  They both have peels (cucumbers are easier to peel), they both have fleshy seeds (watermelon’s “seed” area is pink and more flavorful), they both have rinds – reasonably tasteless until a sauce or syrup is put on them.  So they must be of the same family, right?  So ….. why can’t I take cucumbers, peel and de-seed them and use THEM for watermelon pickles?  Why NOT?

So I peeled and de-seeded and cut up some large cucumbers and put them in three jars with my favorite watermelon recipe syrup.  They sat for about three weeks, then I served them to my granddaughters, only telling them that I had some new pickles for them to try.  My oldest – most discerning – tasted one and shouted “Watermelon Pickles!”  That was good enough for me.  And, warn them as I might that “Pickles are a side dish, NOT a main course,” the pint was emptied before the meal was finished.
I got four pounds of cucumber “watermelon rinds” ready to put up and was very excited about this new process that *I* discovered.  I think I’ll call them “clove pickles” or “grandma’s pickles” (after all, it’s my granddaughters who love them so much).  I got five (count them,  FIVE) pints of “watermelon” pickles to tide us over for the winter.  It doesn’t sound like much, but all I had was the remaining cucumbers from a nice season.

Next year I will plant more cucumbers.  Then I can put by my three different types of sweet pickles (the girls and I are fans of the sweet) and the dills that my brother loves.  I can also experiment more with bread and butter.  My husband loves them and I haven’t found just the right recipe, yet.

So, here I sit, proud of myself for inventing a new pickle and what happens?  A friend / neighbor, LeAnn, came over for some computer lessons and told me that her mother had made these pickles (ooh, I’m not as smart as I thought).  LeAnn said that her mother called them “Slop” pickles but she didn’t know why.  (LeAnn also doesn’t know why her mother wouldn’t teach her how to tat, but that’s another story.)

But,  as I think about it, I might be smarter than I think.  What are the odds of me, as a fan of “old things” being a neighbor to some one whose mom “invented” the same kind of pickles as I did?

Now, if you are interested in watermelon/cucumber pickles, there are a few differences that need to be made.  I have discovered that cucumbers “shrink” when heated and watermelon rinds do not – they are a bit tougher.  So when you follow the recipe for watermelon, don’t cook the cucumbers as long.

I slice the ends off the cucumbers, just barely, as to not waste any of the precious flesh, then peel them.  Cutting them in half, I use the tip of the peeler to pull the seeds out, then cut them in slices, then in bite sized cubes.  I stuff them into the hot, sterilized pint jars and pour the watermelon syrup over them, seal them and there you go!  Bites of delight are waiting for you to enjoy at a special meal.

Watermelon Pickles

(Note: You may use cucumbers but follow the above suggestions!)

4 lbs watermelon rind

2 qts water

2 Tbsp. whole allspice

2 Tbsp. whole cloves

10 2-in cinnamon sticks

1 qt cider vinegar

4 lbs (8 cups) sugar

Remove all pink pulp from watermelon rind, peel and weigh.  Cut in 1-inch cubes.  Pour cold water over rind and let stand for 1 hour; drain.  Cover with fresh cold water; simmer for 1-½ hours or until tender.  Drain.  Tie spices in cheesecloth.  Combine vinegar, 1 quart water and sugar.  Heat until sugar dissolves.  Add spice bag and rind; simmer gently for 2 hours.  Pack rind in clean hot sterilized jars.  Fill jars with boiling hot syrup.  Yield: 12 half pints.

About cpthegreat

Connie (aka Spinning Grandma) lives on Ash Lane Farm in southwest Minnesota. She is an expert on spinning, weaving and knitting and a former history interpreter.

One thought on “Watermelon Pickle Recipe (with cucumber amendments)

  1. Hi, just wanted to say my mom made watermelon pickles using cucumbers every year. She would cut them into big thick pieces and she never pealed them. I remember them being really dark green and the juice was dark green too. I know she used food coloring to create this effect. My sister Julie loved them and was the only one out of the five of us girls that would eat them. What a wonderful memory you have given your granddaughters. I wanted to make them for my sister as a surprise and couldn’t find my moms recipe. I will try yours and hopefully they will be the same thing. I know she hasn’t had them for too many years. Thank you and God bless. Oh yeah we were in Michigan when she made them.