Old-Fashioned Watermelon Rind Pickles

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, September 20, 1912:  Don’t have much for today.

watermelon pickles

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I continue to enjoy making foods that were popular in central Pennsylvania in the early 20th century. Since Grandma didn’t write much I’ll tell you about my latest cooking endeavor.

Pickled foods were incredibly popular a hundred years ago.

I  decided to make old-fashioned watermelon pickles—and they looked lovely and tasted great.

It was a three-day process, but well worth the effort.

Old Fashioned Watermelon Pickles

4-5 quarts watermelon rind

Water

Salt

2 cups apple cider vinegar

7 cups sugar

1 tablespoon whole cloves

3 sticks cinnamon

1 inch cube of fresh ginger

Select watermelon with a thick, firm rind. Cut off the outer green skin, and remove the red watermelon flesh, leaving a very thin layer of pink. Cut into 1-inch squares. Place in a 2 gallon glass  bowl or crock. (I used 2 smaller bowls).

Cover with a salt water solution (2 tablespoons salt to 4 quarts water). Cover and let stand for 24 hours at room temperature.

After 24 hours, drain and rinse with cold water. Cover with ice water. Let stand for 1 hour, then drain.

Place the rind in a large pan, and cover with boiling water. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain.

Put spices in a cheesecloth bag. Combine vinegar, sugar, and spices in large pan. Bring to a boil. Add rind. Simmer until rind is translucent.

Put rind and syrup into large glass bowl or crock. Cover; and let stand for 24 hours at room temperature.

Remove spice bag. Drain off syrup, put into a pan, and heat to boiling.

Pack the rind into hot pint jars; cover with the hot syrup, fill to 1/4 inch of top. Wipe jar rim and put lid on.

Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

Makes approximately 6 pints.

7 Responses

  1. I never heard of watermelon rind pickles pickles before! They do look lovely. Maybe I should take a closer look at the pickle shelves in the old-fashioned general store over in Olde Mistick Village and see what other things they pickled in times gone by.

    • I’ll bet that you’ll find them at an old-fashioned general store. There is a family-owned steakhouse near where I live that takes pride in serving the same foods that they served in the 1930s–and they serve watermelon rind pickles as an appetizer.

  2. Oh, what memories this brought back. My Aunt Esther used to make these. When she died 12 years ago, these one pint jar of her watermelon pickles left. We opened it for Christmas dinner and everyone had one taste. We made that jar last for 6 years with each taking one taste at Christmas to remember her. I think I want to try making them now.

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