Watermelon Rind Pickles
It’s the middle of October and if you thought I was giving up summer, you are wrong! Last week when I wrote the recipe for my Watermelon “Gin”ger & Tonic, I told you to reserve your rind to make pickles so that it didn’t go waste. You didn’t think I’d leave you without a recipe, did you? I’m all about cooking with as little waste as possible, and watermelon rind pickles are a great way to use up the part of the watermelon you may have otherwise thrown away.
These aren’t just any watermelon rind pickles, however. I went the extra mile and amped them up by making them Kool-Aid pickles. If you’ve never seen a Kool-Aid pickle, they are a sight to behold. Normally made with regular cucumber pickles, the pickling liquid is infused with Kool-Aid so the cucumber spears turn a bright blue, red, or purple and get a punch of fruity flavor. This sounded so strange to me when I first heard of it, but they have a cult following, so I decided to give them a shot. What better way to try it than with these watermelon rind pickles?
To play on the fact that this is literal watermelon, I chose to flavor them with watermelon Kool-Aid. This not only amps up the natural flavor of the rind, it gives the pickles a gorgeous reddish-pink color. What you end up with looks like a watermelon candy of some sort, and my test subjects did liken them to spicy watermelon-flavored sour patch kids. The punch of the pepper, the bitterness of the fennel, the tartness of the vinegar, and the sweetness of the sugar work together to create an absolute explosion of flavor in your mouth. Serve these alongside your next BBQ or burger night (c’mon, I’m not the only one that cooks skillet burgers in the cold season when I’m missing summer, right?) for a side that will transport you to your favorite summer memories.
A quick note on pickle safety: these are not boiled and sterilized in the jar, so they are not safe to store at room temperature or for longer than a month. These are more of a “quick pickle,” which means they are just put in a vinegar mixture and refrigerated, and can’t last as long as pickles or preserves that have been traditionally canned. If you are experienced in canning and would like to store them all winter at room temperature, feel free to adjust the recipe for that process to make sure it is safe for long-term storage. For these refrigerator pickles, just make sure they are covered with pickling liquid and not exposed to air inside the jar, and you should be able to enjoy them for up to a month!
Have you ever tried a Kool-Aid pickle? A watermelon rind pickle? Are you scared or intrigued? If you have watermelon rind you were otherwise going to throw away, I recommend at least giving this a shot to see if you like it! If not, at least you tried something new to avoid food waste. Let me know in the comments below what you think of giving these a shot! Until next time, here’s to good drinking, great eating, and even better living.
Watermelon Rind Kool-Aid Pickles
- 3 pint-sized Mason jars
- 2 lbs watermelon rind (from a roughly 5-lb watermelon)
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 4 tsp salt
- 2 .14 oz packets unsweetened watermelon-flavored Kool Aid
- Start by thinly slicing or peeling the skin off of the watermelon rind. You should be left with the white part, that may have some pink on one side, but no tough green skin. Set the skin aside for the compost pile.
- Place all of the pickling liquid ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Hold the boil for 1 minute, then gently add the watermelon rind. Bring back to a boil and then shut the heat off and remove the pot from the heat.
- Allow to sit and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Ladle the pickles into three pint-sized Mason jars, and cover with pickling liquid until it completely covers the pickles. Put the lids on the jars and let sit at room temperature for a further 90 minutes. Refrigerate the pickles and enjoy for up to a month!
- The base of this recipe comes from Alton Brown, found here.