A couple of years ago I made a fabulous relish with my surplus zucchini. It was a sweet relish, very much like the Del Monte hamburger relish I grew up with. I’d been having a hard time finding hamburger relish in stores, so I decided to try making it at home. It was a hit. We used it on hamburgers (of course) but also in egg salad and potato salad to really add a nice flavor.
Unfortunately, my squash crop hasn’t done very well this year, and I’ve been so sad to not have zucchini to make more of this delicious relish.
Yesterday, my son brought home a watermelon, and as I was cutting it I thought about making watermelon rind pickles. I’ve never even had watermelon rind pickles, but it seemed like a great way to eliminate waste, so I cut the rind into pieces. As I set them aside I had a wicked crazy wonderful idea: watermelon rinds might make a great substitute for zucchini in my beloved relish. Following our family credo of “What would happen if…?” I decided to go for it.
And oh my. I am so excited about how this turned out. And so pleased with myself. It is nearly identical to my original recipe in both flavor and looks. The original recipe is slightly sweeter, but honestly? I think the watermelon rind version is just a bit better. I wouldn’t change a thing with this recipe – except maybe to double it.
Important: This is not scary. It took me about an hour to make 3 pints of relish. If you know how to operate a stove and chop veggies, you’re good to go.
Watermelon Rind Relish
- 4 cups chopped watermelon rind, dark green outer skin removed
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 cups vinegar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons mustard seed
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- pinch ground nutmeg
A shortcut to start you off: If you have a food processor you can just toss roughly chopped watermelon rind, onions, and peppers into the bowl of the processor and pulse until they’re a good size. I like mine in about 1/8 – 1/4″ pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, just chop them finely by hand.
Combine watermelon rind, onion, peppers, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well. Chill overnight. Place in a colander to drain; rinse thoroughly and drain again. Transfer to a large stock pot and add remaining ingredients; bring just to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. At this point, the relish is done. You can just put it in jars and then in the refrigerator to use right away or give as gifts.
If you’d like your relish to be shelf stable, you’ll need to process it. Ladle hot relish into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-in. head space. Wipe rims with a damp cloth (to assure a good seal), screw sterilized lids on, and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. (Click through for a complete tutorial on water bath canning if you’ve never done it before.)
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