Most of the time, we tend to treat watermelon rinds like ice pop sticks: just something to grab onto as you treat your parched tastebuds to waves of cool, refreshing fruitiness. But a humble rind can be transformed into a delicious ingredient in its own right.
In the South, there’s a longstanding tradition of—you guessed it—pickling the rinds. This technique does a couple of things: it tenderizes them slightly and then imparts a satisfying crunch, plus a delightfully tangy-sweet flavor. (Peeling the tough outer skin first helps the brine do its work.) How do you actually eat a pickled rind, you ask? Casually toss it into salads as a gourmet add-in, serve it alongside grilled meats for bright contrast, or even just enjoy it as a summertime snack.
Once you’ve picked out the perfect watermelon and made the most of the fruit itself, pickle the rind using the breezy recipe below. And remember: never leave another rind behind.
Pickled Watermelon Rinds
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger
Rinds from 1 8-to-10-pound watermelon, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice (about 8 cups)
Make the Pickling Liquid
In a large pot, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, pickling spice, salt, red pepper flakes, and ginger. Heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 3 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved.
Start the Pickle
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the watermelon rinds and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes, or until just tender when pierced with a fork. Turn off the heat.
Finish the Pickle
If needed, place a plate on top of the watermelon rinds to keep them fully submerged. Let stand 1 hour, or until cooled to room temperature.
Transfer the pickled watermelon rinds and pickling liquid to an airtight container (or containers). Refrigerate overnight, or until ready to use.