Watermelon rind picklesThis recipe is all about my mom. Just like I can’t go through Christmas without making her German anise cookies, it just doesn’t feel like summer without her watermelon pickles. That’s what we always called them, but they are actually pickled watermelon rind. These are sweet with just a hint of spice. Delicious when cut up and used as pickle relish. I would serve these with my German potato salad and maybe sloppy joes, both very mom dishes.

Me and mom in 1965I just love this photo of me and mom in 1965. I had a bunch of these cute little smocked dresses that she made for me.

It was on a hot summer day like this one, once all five kids had demolished an entire watermelon, that mom would pull out the spices and make pickles from the rind. I never thought anything of it, but now I know that this is one of the ways my mom was special. She had an intense thriftiness born out of the Depression, but was also gifted in the kitchen. Plus she had five kids to feed.

Here’s to you, mom.

Suitable for:
vegan, gluten-free, reduced-sugar diets

Not for:
low-sodium, low-tyramine, or migraine diets

Today’s post is part of our mission to help you rebuild your health through food and lifestyle choices. Look for posts on Mondays featuring gluten-free, sugar-free recipes made with healthy plant-based ingredients, Wednesday essays, and Friday giveaways (when available).

I use Lundberg Farms organic brown rice syrup. If you cannot find whole star anise, you can order it here:
Watermelon rind pickles

How to make watermelon-rind pickles

Tender and sweet, the taste of summer.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 16 servings


  • 20 ounces watermelon watermelon rind only, use the fruit for another purpose
  • 1 tbsp sea salt kosher salt
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup agave syrup, honey
  • 1 tbsp cloves (whole)
  • 1 tbsp allspice (whole)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise


  • Prep the watermelon rind by peeling the green thick skin. Cut up into smallish cubes.
    Peeling the watermelon rind
  • Once you have cut it, trim off any pink flesh from the inside edge. (A tinge of pink is okay, but you want the white, firm flesh for these pickles.)
    Watermelon rind pieces
  • Mix the salt with 1 qt. (1 L) filtered water until the salt is dissolved. Soak the rind pieces for one hour. Rinse and drain.
  • Add the spices to a spice bag or tie up inside a piece of cheesecloth.
    Spices for watermelon pickles
  • In a large pot, add a fresh quart (one liter) of filtered water, the vinegar, syrup, and the spices. Stir well to combine. Add the drained rind. Bring just to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 45-60 minutes.
  • Taste. The pickles should be tender but not mushy. Let cool completely.


Per serving:
  • 85 calories
  • 0 g fat
  • 0 g saturated fat
  • 0 g monounsaturated fat
  • 0 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 0 g cholesterol
  • 457 mg sodium (use less salt and rinse well to reduce sodium, there is no way to tell how much sodium will be left after rinsing, so analysis included 1 T. salt)
  • 109 mg potassium
  • 20 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 12 g sugars
  • 0 g protein
  • 2 Weight Watchers Points Plus
Store in a covered glass container in the refrigerator, covered in the pickling liquid. Check out these other healthy recipes on Diet, Dessert, and Dogs.
Additional notes:
  • Don't sweat the amounts of the rind. You can have more or less than this and it will work fine. If it really seems like you have too much rind for the liquid (it should be covered in the pan), then double the water, vinegar, syrup, and spices.
  • Peeling and prepping the rind can be tiresome, or a Zen meditation. I go for Zen.
  • When you are finished, mince some up and store with pickling liquid for fresh pickle relish.
  • Compost everything you don't end up pickling, including the spice bag contents when you are done.