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Watermelon Rind Relish Makes the Most of the Entire Fruit!

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This sweet and tangy watermelon rind relish recipe makes good use of watermelon rinds that would otherwise end up in the compost.

Check out even more great summertime canning recipes to stock your pantry here!

Watermelon Rind Relish Recipe in a glass canning jar

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 added it to 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.

Watermelon Rind Relish Recipe in process: rind, chopped rind, cooked rind, in jar

Watermelon rind relish recipe – a success!

And oh my. I am so excited about how this watermelon rind relish recipe 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 watermelon rind relish 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. 

Canning Safety

Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. 

  • Know the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning. Low acid items must be pressure canned for safety. 
  • Altering ingredients may change the recipe’s pH, posing a safety issue. 
  • Use the proper jars and lids. Never reuse lids, with the exception of the Tattler lids that are intended for such a purpose.
  • For more on canning equipment, please go here

Making this relish

The part of the watermelon that you’ll use for this recipe is the pale green or whitish rind. You’ll need to remove the outer green part of the watermelon. Compost that. Then cut away the red flesh and serve that up as slices or in a fruit salad. It won’t matter if there’s a little bit of red flesh still clinging to the rind, as you can see above, but trim most of it away.

While you don’t have to have a food processor to make this recipe, it will definitely reduce the amount of chopping you need to do.

If you’re not interested in canning this relish to make it shelf stable, simply put it in jars and store in the refrigerator for up to three months.

Related: Canning Recipes to Preserve the Summertime Garden Abundance

watermelon rind relish in a glass canning jar from above

★ Did you make this watermelon rind relish recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! 

Watermelon Rind Relish Recipe

Watermelon Rind Relish Recipe

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This recipe came about completely by accident one day when I decided I wouldn't waste the rind from fresh watermelon.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 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.
  3. 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.)
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 92Unsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 181mgCarbohydrates: 21gSugar: 19g

Did you make this recipe?

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Originally published in August 2011; this post has been updated.

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

24 comments… add one
  • Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart Aug 3, 2011, 8:30 am

    This looks awesome. I’ll have to try it!

  • Elizabeth Aug 4, 2011, 10:20 am

    I bet this recipe could be lacto-fermented as well, instead of being prepared with vinegar. You would leave out the vinegar, increase the salt to about 1 T per quart, and add 2 T per quart of whey from an active culture of kefir or yogurt, then let it ferment on your counter until it is pleasantly sour.

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 4, 2011, 10:28 am

      Thanks for this, Elizabeth! I’m still trying to wrap my head around the whole idea of lacto-fermentation, so I appreciate hearing how to alter the recipe accordingly.

  • Melanie Haiken Aug 4, 2011, 12:37 pm

    This is such a great example of leaving no waste; reminds me of the native American Indians and their practices of using all parts of the animal. I am canning-challenged (terribly intimidated) but may try this, since if I ruined it, I wouldn’t be wasting veggies I could eat in other forms….

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 4, 2011, 2:53 pm

      Even if you’re “canning challenged” as long as you can chop some veggies and simmer them, you can keep this right in the fridge! No canning necessary.

  • Doug Aug 19, 2011, 12:21 am

    Sorry, no recipe but my grandmother (southern lady from very modest circumstances) used to make candy from the rinds of many fruits; watermelon and grapefruit come to mind. As I recall (and it’s been a looong time) the rinds were cut into bite sized chunks and then somehow sugared so the sugar was infused into the rind and left a crunchy coating on the outside. As a kid, I don’t recall being enamored with the flavor but I’d sure like to give it a try now that I have a more, ahem, mature palette.

  • Nicole Sep 12, 2013, 6:39 am

    I just wanted to say thank you for this recipe! This is my and my husband’s first year farming and we’ve had a beautiful bounty of heirloom watermelons. Not wanting to waste ANYTHING we wanted to find a good recipe for the rind instead of using it for compost. We have successfully made this recipe 4 times and have been selling it at our weekly farmers’ market. Thank you, thank you!!

    P.S. It seems to sell well when marketed as a “chutney” because relish and chutneys are quite similar.

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 15, 2013, 6:25 am

      Oh, that’s so awesome! Thanks for letting me know. Glad to hear your customers like it and that you’ve managed to divert the rinds from the compost! (Have you tried the tomato chutney recipe I shared??)

      • Nicole Sep 15, 2013, 6:53 am

        I just read the recipe and your intro had my mouth watering. So glad Claudette shared the recipe for our enjoyment! Our tomatoes are done here in central Louisiana but I bookmarked it and will try it as soon as I get my hands on some yummy tomatoes. Thank you again, Kris!!!

  • Michelle Dec 9, 2013, 5:50 pm

    Watermelon rind pickles are super yummy, but there are several recipes out there; our favorite has the longest inactive time, as it involves soaking the cut up, peeled rind pieces in pickling lime water so that they stay crisp. Otherwise they are soft; it’s all about which way you prefer them. They are sweet and spicy and amazing, and best of all, all they cost you is time and sugar and a few spices; I add a small bag of red hots for color and zing 🙂

  • Lisa P Dec 13, 2013, 8:14 am

    Looks good, I LOVE relish. I had some of the zucchini relish from a friend which we like on hotdogs. I too have more watermelon rind than squash so i must try this. I also make a “hot BBQ slaw” that has cabbage and mustard – also good on burgers and dogs. Never thought to use in my “tater” salad – something else to try – thanks!

  • Shelle @ PreparednessMama Aug 20, 2015, 6:02 am

    We put relish in our tuna salad and other recipe and have also had trouble finding it in the grocery store. Even Costco doesn’t carry those big gallon jugs any more. This recipe looks fantastic, I’m out to buy a watermelon (or 2)!

  • Suzanne Davis Aug 21, 2015, 8:09 am

    Made your watermelon rind relish yesterday and it is fantastic! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 21, 2015, 8:38 am

      So glad it turned out to your liking!

  • Jeanne McIntyre May 11, 2016, 9:03 am

    I used your recipe for watermelon rind relish and it was one of the easiest recipes to follow. I had a couple carrots in the fridge, so I added them to the mix. The relish tastes better than the relish I had purchased. Thank you so much for your ideas.

  • Kay Heath May 14, 2016, 10:23 am

    This is the absolute best relish going.. I can’t believe how fast it flew off my shelves.. I made 12 half pints and now I am making 10 pints. Thank you for the great recipe.

    • Kris Bordessa May 16, 2016, 11:09 am

      Thanks for sharing your success! I can’t wait to make more this year.

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018, 10:08 pm

    This was so easy to make.

  • June Shenoy Mar 25, 2018, 2:34 am

    I tried this and it turned lovely, Thank you for this great recipe!

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 29, 2018, 6:42 am

      Glad you liked it!

  • connie j ratner Jul 30, 2018, 6:06 am

    this recipe is a keeper. i spiced it up a bit with three jalapenos. This relish is good eating as a side or added to sandwiches, ( we added it to tuna sandwiches). Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe.

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 5, 2018, 4:38 pm

      Glad you liked it!

  • Langa Nov 13, 2018, 8:12 pm

    Lovely recipe…oh my gosh tangy sweet relish. How long can it stay out of the fridge for after sterilizing jars? I want to put the open jar in the fridge but keep the rest in my cupboard.
    Thanks

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 14, 2018, 9:51 am

      Once it’s processed in a water bath and jars are sealed, the relish is shelf stable! It can stay in the pantry for at least a year.

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