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Not My Grandmother’s Watermelon Pickles

I have very fond memories of my grandmother’s food and garden. As a child, it was always fun to go out to Gram’s  farm in the summer and wander in her huge garden. She had rows and rows of gladiolas and a variety of berries and vegetables. Her house was full of sunshine, quilts, afghans and butterflies. She always had apples pies in the freezer. The homemade bread she made was sooo good — and there was always this amazing thick sweet brilliant red raspberry jam to put on them.

Not my grandmother's gladiola either ...

The other thing I remember was her watermelon pickles. Whenever we had watermelon, she always told us not to eat all the pink part off.  That was for the pickles. There were always pickles at every family get together I can ever remember … in little segmented glass dishes with olives on one side and pickles on the other. I really am not a pickle person; I don’t in general even like pickles very much. Except my grandmother’s watermelon pickles. Those I cherished. Anticipated. Reveled in.

The other day my daughter and I polished off half a watermelon between the two of us. I looked at the pile of watermelon rind (surprisingly thick–you don’t see rind that thick hardly ever anymore!) and decided I just had to make pickles.

Several years ago I asked my gramma for her watermelon pickle recipe. She said she didn’t remember … but a friend of mine had shared her recipe … but then I wanted to put my own twist on them … hmmm. How about watermelon jalapeno pickles? That spicy sweet taste in a pickle? Oh yeah!

Jalapeno Watermelon Pickles

They didn’t turn out as spicy as I really wanted. I think my jalapenos must be mild. One jalapeno should put these pickles on fire. Maybe next time I’ll add some other peppers? But still they have a tiny little kick to them. I didn’t follow my friend’s recipe exactly … cut down the sugar (as I always do), and made a smaller batch.

Watermelon Jalapeno Pickles


  • 4 c. watermelon rind (about 1/2 of a watermelon)
  • 1/2 c. pickling salt
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. vinegar
  • 1 t. cinnamon extract
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1-3  jalapenos, sliced
  • a shake of nutmeg
  • a sprinkle of ginger


  1. This is best done with thick-rind watermelon, which you don’t find that often anymore. The one we had just happened to have thicker rind than usual.  Trim off  the dark green skin with a peeler, and cut into 1” cubes.
  2. Soak the rind about 2 hours or overnight in salt water to cover. I used 1/2 c. pickling salt  in 1 quart water.
  3. Drain off the salt water and cover the rinds in water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, but not soft (about 10 min). Drain and set aside.
  4. Bring the sugar, vinegar, and spices to a boil. Add the jalapeno slices. Pour the syrup and japs over watermelon rind, cover, and let sit overnight.
  5. In the morning, heat the pickles to boiling and seal at once in hot, sterilized jars.
Actually, I skipped the 2nd part of step 5 and just put them in a quart jar in the fridge. They nicely filled one widemouth jar.
Watermelon Jalapeno Pickles
I shared this recipe with my foodie friends on facebook on my Grandmother’s 100th birthday and one of the comments was this beautiful poem about summer and unicorns and watermelon pickles. I didn’t want to lose it, so I’m adding it to this post.
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4 Responses

  1. Laurel Glisky

    Oh Ann! I remember those too, tho not so fondly. They rank up there with beet pickles for me. I should say, down there. Ugh. They look gorgeous though!

    I know Grandma would love to see what she’s inspired! You should print copies of your blog and mail to her.

    I don’t think she’s “on-line”!

    August 15, 2011 at 10:59 pm

  2. I absolutely Love This! A Great Memory and Recipe! Thank You so much for sharing!
    I just so happen to have a watermelon sitting on my counter. <3 and Hugs!

    August 31, 2011 at 11:31 pm

  3. YES!!! Love this post dear Ann! As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I love watermelon pickles too, and my grandmother always had them too, AND there was always a “relish dish” or two on the dining room table to accompany the Holiday feast! 🙂 The one you describe – pickles and olives – sounds exactly like the one I loved throughout my childhood and beyond. I don’t have her recipe either 🙁 but I haven’t given up yet! I know I’ve seen it, but can’t put my hands on it. My grandmother was famous for her watermelon pickles, her devil’s food cake, banana nut cake, biscuits, beef & noodles, and divinity! Oh how I’d love to be in the kitchen with her right this minute getting ready for Thanksgiving <3

    April 1, 2012 at 11:39 am

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