Traditional pickled watermelon rind recipes are somewhat sweet, with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. But since my husband is the pickle eater in our house, I decided to try a jalapeno based recipe - something I thought would be right up his alley. The end result was something similar to a sweet pickle; the rinds aren't hot, but they do have twinges of jalapeno.
It seems many canners find the job of peeling watermelons tedious and time consuming. Taking my time, however, it took me only 21 minutes to prepare an entire melon. I think the trick is to cut the rind into 1 to 1 1/2 in. pieces first, so you're working with nearly straight pieces. Even so, I found the ends of the watermelon hardest to work with - and mostly discarded those pieces of rind because they were too thin.
What You Need:
About 16 cups of peeled watermelon rind
1 cup pickling or canning salt
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 medium jalapeno, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
freshly grated peel from 1 lime
Large stainless steel or glass bowl
Plate of the correct size to fit into the bowl
Stainless steel pot
Boiling bath canner
Canning jars and lids
How to Do It:
1. Review the general procedure for using a boiling water bath canner.
2. The first step is to peel the watermelon rind. You want only the white part - no red or green should be left on the rind when you pickle it. The easiest way to accomplish this is to wash the watermelon whole and slice into 2 in. wide rounds using a large knife. Cut each round into quarters. Using a small knife, cut the red part of the melon away from the white of the rind. (Store the red in an air tight container in the refrigerator.) Cut the rind into pieces of about 1 to 1 1/2 in. in size. Set each piece on its side and remove any remaining red, then slice away the green part of the rind.
3. Place a layer of the peeled rinds in the bottom of the stainless steel or glass bowl. Sprinkle liberally with some of the salt. Repeat layers until all the rind and salt are used up. Place a plate on top of the rinds and weigh it down with something. (I used a large, full cottage cheese tub.) Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and preferably overnight. (This step draws water from the rind and will make the pickles more crisp.)
4. The following day, dump the rinds in a colander and rinse with cool, running water. Drain and rinse again. Drain thoroughly.
5. Pour the rinds into a stainless steel pot. Add the vinegar and cook over high heat until boiling. Add the jalapeno, allspice, and the grated lime peel. Cook for 2 minutes.
6. Ladle into sterilized canning jars, leaving a generous 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Put lids on jars. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.*
** NOTE: If you live at a high altitude, read this important information about adjusting canning times.