Cilantro-Lime-Jalapeno Watermelon Rind Pickles


Quite a title, ay? But if we were to call it by everything it’s got, it would have a bunch of other words like “garlic,” and “cumin” and “coriander” and more!

The pictures show a yellow pickle… that’s due to the fact that I used a yellow watermelon. The turmeric in this recipe was to further enhance and accentuate the color, but even if you use a red watermelon (which is more than fine), the turmeric flavor and color will work here as well. Using a slice of beet with a red watermelon will also build character as well. Certainly not required though.

I was looking for that lip-puckering sweet & sour, with a spicy kick too. I went with a vinegar pickle for this recipe as I wanted to lock in the sugars in the brine, for that combo sweet and sour knockout.

This pickle is amazing all on its own, but seriously, try dicing it into tacos, or freezing the brine into popsicles. So many possibilities with these!

Modifying this recipe to a ferment, however, is totally possible (simply by replacing the vinegar with water, and I’d also recommend adding one more TBSP pickling salt). The addition of the sugar is optional. The ferment will start off quite sweet with the added sugar, but slowly (in the fridge) the sugars will be fermented into lactic acid. I typically ferment my watermelon rinds, and that’s part of what attracted me to developing a new recipe, using vinegar.

So let’s do it!

You will need:

  • Half gallon jar
  • Mortar & pestle (recommended)
  • Knife & cutting board
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Small saucepan & stirring spoon
  • Canning funnel (optional)


1.75 – 2 lbs. watermelon rind, cut into spears

20g cilantro (~1/3 bunch), chopped

2 jalapenos (or hot peppers to taste), sliced

Juice & zest of 2 limes, or one large lemon

2 cups white vinegar

2 cups filtered or distilled water

1 cup granulated sugar

1.5 TBSP pickling salt

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

For a more savory version, add the following (amazing in a taco, not as suitable for cocktails):

1-2 bay leaves

2 tsp whole coriander seed

1/2 tsp black peppercorns

1/2 tsp whole cumin seed

2 large cloves garlic, quartered


1.) In the jar, combine the rinds, cilantro, jalapeno, (optional) garlic, and citrus juice & zest.

2.) Lightly toast the whole spices in a pan for a minute or two. Then coarsely grind. Transfer to the saucepan, along with the turmeric powder.

3.) Turn up the heat to high and add the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt.

4.) Bring to an active simmer or low boil, stirring occasionally until all the salt is dissolved. Using the canning funnel, pour the steaming brine into the jar, until it nearly reaches the lid. Seal tightly. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 3-4 days before tasting.

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