Sunday, August 14, 2016

Watermelon Rind Pickles

I think I first heard of these in the Little House books.  They definitely were not part of my diet growing up.  But I was about to cut up a mini watermelon for the Watermelon Soup and decided to look up a recipe.  The one in the Ball Book of Canning was easy and I had all of the ingredients at home.  The only extra step was going to be removing the outer peel from the melon.

These still qualify as refrigerator pickles, instead of fermented ones.  They are brined overnight, like a turkey, then preserved in vinegar and sugar.  For those of you familiar with the pickled ginger you get with sushi, it's more along those lines.

After trying to convince people this recipe was a real thing, I went to the Ventura County Fair.  In the children's exhibition, some kid had canned watermelon rind.  Theirs looked better than mine.  It probably wasn't their first attempt.

I'm scaling down the recipe to the 4 cups of rind I got off a mini watermelon.  A large melon would probably yield the 16 cups in the original recipe.

Rind of 1 mini watermelon
1/4 C pickling salt (I used Kosher)
2 C cold water, divided
1-1/2 C sugar
1 C white vinegar
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half

1.  On Day 1, cut rind from melon and peel off green outer layer.  Cut into 1" x 2" strips and layer in a bowl or crock with salt.  Add 1 C cold water.  Weigh down the mixture with a plate topped with something heavy like a jar filled with water.  Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
2.  Transfer rind to a colander.  Rinse well under cool water to remove all the salt.  Place in a medium saucepan with other cup of cool water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer until fork-tender, about 10 minutes.  Pour back into the colander and let it drain while you prepare the pickling liquid.

3.  In the saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes, to infuse cinnamon.  Add drained rind and return to a boil.  Reduce heat again and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until watermelon is translucent, about 1 hour.  Discard cinnamon pieces.

4.  During that hour of simmering, prepare your canner for a 1 pint yield.  I chose two half-pint jars.  Or just clean a container if you're not canning.  These are fine to refrigerate for a week.

5.  If canning, spoon in rind and cover with syrup, leaving 1/2" headspace.  Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, center hot lids, screw down rims finger-tight, and process in water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove from canner and check seals once cooled.

Makes 1 pint

Difficulty rating  :-0

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