It is the season for pickling; why not watermelon rind pickles?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 28, 2017

‘Tis the season for pickling. How do I know? Because Beth Lee of north Brewton told me so.

Lee is ready to make lots of pickles. She tasted some watermelon rind pickles earlier this spring that were crisp, sweet and refreshing and now she wants to make her own.

She has a huge, fine watermelon and is planning to make pickles galore. However, one of the ingredients of the recipe she has called for a “valve of lime.” After a quick call to Amelia Mitchell, former Food Safety and Quality REA about this ingredient, we found that a “valve of lime” is no longer used for pickling. Amelia recommended that we consult with the National Center for Food Preservation for an up-to-date (researched based tested) recipe at http//

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The delightful recipe is listed below:

Watermelon Rind Pickles

• 3 quarts (about 6 pounds) watermelon rind, unpared

• ¾ cup salt

• 3 quarts water

• 2 quarts (2 trays) ice cubes

• 9 cups sugar

• 3 cups 5% vinegar, white

• 3 cups water

• 1 tablespoon (about 48) whole cloves

• 6 cinnamon sticks, 1 inch pieces

• 1 lemon, thinly sliced, with seeds removed

Yield: About 4 or 5 pints.

Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

Procedure – Trim the pink flesh and outer green skin from thick watermelon rind. Cut into 1 inch squares or fancy shapes as desired. Cover with brine made by mixing the salt with 3 quarts cold water. Add ice cubes. Let stand three to four hours.

Drain; rinse in cold water. Cover with cold water and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes (do not overcook). Drain.

Combine sugar, vinegar, water and spices (tied in a clean, thin, white cloth). Boil 5 minutes and pour over the watermelon; add lemon slices. Let stand overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat watermelon in syrup to boiling and cook slowly 1 hour. Pack hot pickles loosely into clean, hot pint jars. To each jar add 1 piece of stick cinnamon from spice bag; cover with boiling syrup, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids.

Recommended process time for watermelon rind pickles in a boiling-water canner: Pack hot, pint jars for 10 minutes. Let cool, undisturbed, 12-24 hours and check for seals. Source: This document was extracted from “So Easy to Preserve,” 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress. Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.

Nutritional value of watermelon

Watermelon is true to its name. It is more than 90 percent water by weight, so it is quite low in calories. For less than 100 calories, you can have a hearty snack of 1 2/3 cups of watermelon chunks.

Besides having a palate-pleasing sweet taste and possessing hydrating properties, watermelon packs a nutrition punch. Watermelon is high in natural antioxidants that may protect our bodies. Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which promote healthy skin and a strong immune system.

Watermelon is one of the best sources of lycopene, which is a natural pigment usually associated with tomatoes. Lycopene provides the rosy red hue to watermelons. Eating foods that are good sources of lycopene may help prevent diseases including cancer and heart disease.

Nutrition scientists also have been studying the citrulline in watermelon. This natural compound is converted by our body to arginine, which is an amino acid (protein building block). Arginine may play a role in promoting heart health.  Be sure to enjoy some ripe, juicy watermelon while it is in season.   Source: J. Garden-Robinson NDSU Extension Service Food and nutrition specialist.