Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Watermelon Rind Pickles

My wife likes watermelon and recently bought a melon, carefully cutting out the red inside so she could keep it in a container in the refrigerator. That left the rind to be thrown away—or made into watermelon rind pickles.

Given my aversion to throwing anything edible or that can be made edible away, I decided to make watermelon rind pickles out of some of the rind (not all of it yet, there is a lot of rind on a watermelon!).

The process takes four days. Day one, you need to carefully trim away both the pink inside of the watermelon and the hard green rind on the outside, leaving you with the light green, almost translucent inner rind. Cut the inner rind into one inch pieces, then mixed them with a large handful of salt. Cover and let rest overnight.

On the second day, rinse the salt from the rind, then simmer it in water to cover for an hour. Drain and then pour two cups white vinegar and one cup of water over the watermelon (use more in the same proportion if necessary). Once again, cover and let rest over night.

On the third day, make a syrup with two cups vinegar, one cup water and two cups sugar (add another cup of sugar if you like your watermelon pickles sweet). Flavor the syrup with some combination of 4 to 6 allspice berries, 10 to 12 whole cloves, a cinnamon stick or two and 10 to 12 whole red or white peppercorns. Do not use ground spices as they will make the syrup cloudy and unappetizing. Pour the syrup over the watermelon rind and refrigerate for the flavors to be absorbed by the rind.

Finally, on the fourth day after you’ve started, the watermelon rind pickles will be ready to eat. The rind itself has very little taste—just a pleasant crunch if you’ve done everything right—so most of the taste comes from the spices you’ve used. That means each batch can be different, if you prefer.

I though mine were pretty good. Good enough to make again. But if my wife eats too many watermelons this summer, I’m either going to have to give up on converting the rinds to pickles or give everyone I know a jar of watermelon rind pickles for Christmas.

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