This sweet and tangy watermelon rind relish makes good use of food waste that would otherwise end up in the compost.
Check out even more great summertime canning recipes to stock your pantry here!
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. [Go here to read about growing your own watermelon.]
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.
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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 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. I highly recommend investing in pH paper to test your products for acidity level when canning.
- 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.
- The recipes on this site have been made following safe canning procedures by a certified Master Food Preserver.
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.
Canning watermelon relish
Canning this relish in a water bath canner makes it a shelf stable product that can last a year or so in the pantry.
Once the relish is ready, ladle it into canning jars while it’s still hot. I have a canning funnel for this purpose, that makes it easier to transfer hot products into the jars without a lot of mess.
Use a damp cloth to wipe the rim of each jar; a little bit of food on the jar rim can prevent the lids from sealing properly. Set the lids in place and screw the bands on finger tight. Use a jar lifter to transfer jars into the gently boiling water. As stated above, the water in the pot should cover the jars by an inch. If necessary add more water to the canner.
Process jars for the recommended time. (See below.) When time is up, use the jar lifter to transfer jars to a flat surface that’s padded with a kitchen towel. Allow jars to cool completely. As they cool, you’ll begin to hear a canner’s favorite sound: That lovely little tink! that indicates a successful seal.
Once jars of relish are thoroughly cooled, check the seal on all of the jars. The lid should be concave and solid. If it flexes at all, it’s not sealed. (Place any jars that didn’t seal in the refrigerator and use them first. They are not shelf stable.)
Remove bands from cooled jars and rinse the jars. Store jars without the bands.
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- 4 cups chopped watermelon rind, dark green outer skin removed
- 2 cups onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups granulated organic cane sugar
- 1 1/2 cups vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
Make the relish:
- 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. 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.
Canning the relish:
- While the relish is cooking, fill a canning pot with water, set the lid in place, and heat on high heat until boiling.
- Ladle hot relish into pint or half-pint jars, leaving 1/4" head space. A canning funnel makes this easy.
- Wipe jar rims to remove any relish that may have spilled. A clean rim is essential to a good seal.
- Set jar lids in place. Screw bands on finger tight.
- Use a jar lifter to gently submerge jars into hot water in canning pot. Water should cover the top of the jars by an inch. The water will cool somewhat in reaction to the addition of the jars. Return the water to a simmer and set the timer.
- Process for 15 minutes 0-6,000 feet altitude; 20 minutes over 6,000 feet.
- Allow jars to cool overnight.
- Check for seal: the lids should feel solid and slightly indented. If they flex, that are not shelf stable and should be refrigerated and used first.
- Wash jars, remove rings, and store in a cool, dry place for a year.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 100 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 92Unsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 181mgCarbohydrates: 21gSugar: 19g