Watermelon Rind & Habanero Pickles Recipe
21. August 2018
Our friend and guest blogger Chez LaRae created this amazing Watermelon Rind and Habanero Pickle recipe. LaRae is a self-taught baker, cooking and baking instructor, recipe developer, and an editor at @thefeedfeed. You can follow LaRae’s amazing food adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and her website.
While growing up in Minnesota, my aunt and uncle owned a rural country restaurant that served a gratis relish tray before the main course arrived. One unique item on the tray was watermelon pickles. The pickles were sweet, vinegary, and mildly spicy with hints of clove and cinnamon. The pickles had the consistency of a very ripe pear. I ate many watermelon pickles growing up, but only at their restaurant. Since then, I have searched for these pickles from my youth.
Today I wanted that familiar pickle, but with a contemporary twist. I omitted the cloves and cinnamon and instead added fresh habanero peppers. These pickles are wonderful served with a fruit and cheese platter or charcuterie board. They also pair well with grilled meats and roasts or straight from the jar. They are quite addictive!
Watermelon Rind and Habanero Pickles (Makes about 4 one-pint jars)
Adapted from an America's Test Kitchen recipe with permission © 2018 Chez LaRae
- ½ cup canning and pickling salt
- 1 10-pound watermelon
- 3 cups white vinegar, 5% acidity
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 4 habanero peppers (Leaving the peppers whole in this recipe ensures that you have some heat, but not prohibitively so).
Using a vegetable peeler, peel entire watermelon. Using a sharp knife, quarter the peeled watermelon. Remove the rind from the flesh, scrape rind clean with a spoon, and cut rind into 1-inch pieces. It is okay to have a little pink on your rind as it adds beauty to the finished pickles. You will have about 10 cups of rind depending on the size of the watermelon. Reserve watermelon flesh for eating or other recipes.
Dissolve canning salt in 2 quarts of water. Add rind and refrigerate for 4 hours. Drain and rinse rind. Bring two quarts water to a boil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add rind and cook until just tender. About 5 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, set canning rack in water bath canner. Place four pint jars in rack and add enough water to cover the jars by 1 inch. Simmer over low heat until ready to use.
Bring vinegar, sugar, and one cup of water to a boil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat. Add rind and the four habanero peppers. Simmer until rind begins turning translucent, about five minutes.
Using a slotted spoon or ladle, pack hot watermelon rinds into hot jars to within a generous 1/2″ headspace. Place one whole habanero in each jar. Ladle hot syrup into jars. Remove air bubbles with a skewer and readjust headspace ensuring 1/2″. Wipe jar rims with damp cloth.
Apply lids and bands and adjust until fingertip tight. Place jars in boiling water canner. When all jars are in the canner, adjust the water level in the canner so that it covers the jars by at least one inch. Cover the canner with a lid and bring water to a full rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling hard and continuously, begin counting the processing time of 10 minutes.
Once full time is complete, turn off heat and let jars sit in canner an additional five minutes (this standing time allows the pressure inside the jars to stabilize and reduces the likelihood of liquid loss that could otherwise occur when the jars are removed.)
Remove jars and place on a kitchen towel-lined space. The towel will help reduce the chance of jar breakage. Do not dry the lids or jars at this point. You do not want to disturb the lids while the seals are being formed. Allow jars to cool for 24 hours before removing bands and wiping down jars. Label and date jars and store in a cool dry place for up to one year.