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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The first batch of watermelon rind pickles and what to do if you don't have a water-bath canner

It's a 3-day process. That doesn't mean that I'm slaving away at it for 3 days, straight. The first day is the most labor-intensive, with slicing off the dark green of the rind, then cutting, plus simmering and making the brine. The next day, I strained off the brine, to reboil and pour over the rind pieces. And on the third day, I boiled the brine, one more time, poured over the rind as it's packed in jars, and finally, water-bath process.

I packed these jars tightly, so I'm guessing each jar will last through 4 or 5 family meals. I think I have about a 4 to 5-month supply of this kind of pickle. It's something we enjoy, but I also forget about it at times, when there's something else we're into in the moment.

I'm hoping to do 2 more batches like this pickle, for a total of 9 pints.

I store the rind pieces in a Rubbermaid container or plastic bags, in the fridge, for up to 4 days, until I have enough to do a large-ish batch, about 3 full pints.

You wanna see my make-shift water-bath canner? So a water bath just needs to cover the lids and jars, about an inch with the water. Any large stainless, or enamel stockpot works well for this. But you need something to hold the jars off of the bottom of the stockpot, while it's boiling. I don't have a rack.

I had a bunch of regular-size, (the smaller ones, not wide-mouth) used canning jar rings. I tied them together with cotton, kitchen string, to make a circle of rings, about the size of the bottom of one of my stockpots. When placed, top side up, inside the stockpot with water, the jars rest on top of the rings, about 3 or 4 fat jars or 6 slimmer jars, in this stockpot. I've used this exact circle of tied-together rings for about 20 years now. Doesn't look pretty, but it works, and can be replaced any year, with the next batch of worn rings. And it doesn't take up much space to store.

Just an idea to keep in mind, if you'd like to try canning some jam or jelly this summer, but don't have the "official" supplies, like the canning rack. I do have a jar lifter, which is a set of tongs with a wide opening to grasp a jar out of the hot water. Indispensable to me now. But before I had the jar-lifting tongs, I managed with some regular tongs in one hand, and a thick towel in the other to grab each jar as I pulled it out of the water. What's that saying? Necessity is the mother of invention. Homemakers have been figuring out how to do any number of things without every gadget out there, since the beginning of keeping the home fires burning.


  1. This is brilliant! I have a real canner, with the rack, etc., that was handed down to me by my MIL, but it is such a pain to work with. It's heavy, it requires a LOT of water and with living in the country with a well, we try to not use excessive water. So the contraption you have so creatively devised is a perfect solution. Especially when doing small batches, but also for larger ones too. I'm going to round up some of my old rings and create similar "rack". THANK YOU!!!

    1. Hi Jayne,
      I understand that, with the larger stock pots and how incredibly much water it takes to fill them. I do have one really large stockpot that I only occasionally use for water bath canning, as it just takes so much water to fill it. I can only imagine with being on a well, and in summer, when you'd do the canning, how precious the water can be.

      Have a great day, Jayne!

  2. Lili, I love your rack contraption. I use a small round cake rack in my stockpot and get by with that. By the way, I was thrilled with your "tour guide" of Seattle. It will definitely used! Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Bonnie,
      The cake rack sounds like a great solution, too. My cake racks are square, but I'm going to see if they'd fit inside my largest stockpot. Thanks for the idea!

      Enjoy your time in Seattle!

  3. Thank you for the idea Lili. I have been using my largest stock pot for canning for years. I guess I have been living dangerously because I haven't had anything on the bottom of the pot and I've never had a canning jar break. Lucky me! I will make one of your "rings" and use it the next time I can.
    - Ellie

    1. Hi Ellie,
      So far, I've only ever had one large jar crack. For all I know, the crack may have begun in the dishwasher, or in handling. Fortunately, I was just sterilizing jars, and didn't have anything in them, yet.

      Have a great day, Ellie!

  4. Your three day watermelon rind pickles makes me think about the 14 day lime pickles we used to make when I was a kid. They soaked for 14 days and you did various things to them on various days. After two weeks, we canned them. They were a vary tart sweet pickle.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      those lime pickles sound interesting!

  5. This is brilliant! You are the smartest person. I did. Not not bring the water bath canner when we moved. Hardly any storage in the condominium. We don't have a garage or
    Coat closet and that is
    where we kept over flow. I am so excited! I will be able to can again. I also have round racks for cakes.
    Sorry about typos the kindle has a mind of it's own.
    Have a great day!

    1. Hi Patti,
      The round cake rack might work very well for you, and then nothing extra to store! I'm all for those kind of kitchen gadgets!

      Have a great day, too, Patti!

  6. Great rack for your water bath canner. :) How do the pickles taste?

    1. Hi Belinda,
      It's a sweet, spicy vinegar brine. But the spice is pretty subdued. In a pinch, I dice them and use in place of sweet relish, or slice thin and put on sandwiches, like a sweet pickle. And their texture is medium firm, not quite as crisp as a sweet gherkin.

      Have a great day, Belinda!


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