Saturday, July 5, 2014

Watermelon Pickles

When I was growing up, I could walk downstairs into the basement and be amazed at the number of Ball jars chock-full with various items. One of the favorites was watermelon pickles – available in green and red. So, when a friend gave me a cookbook with a recipe for them, I then had a starting point for recreating the memory. Then, in a discussion about watermelon pickles with a neighbor, I got a recipe card from her mother – so that would be from my grandmother’s generation. What follows is a blend of it all.

Here’s what’s needed:

4 cups of watermelon rind – this is about all the rind from a ‘personal’ size melon
4 cups water
3 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
1 lemon sliced in 1/16 inch slices, or equivalent of 1 lemon of juice
1 stick cinnamon (crushed)
1 teaspoon whole cloves

If you want to make them spicy, then the following is needed as well:
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Watermelon rind is the white part between the red meat and the green skin. 

I found that it is best to peel the skin off ¾ inch slices after the red meat has been removed.

Then, after the peel is removed, the strips of rind can be cut into ¾ inch or so pieces.

Blanch the pieces of rind to tenderize them. Meanwhile, in the brining bucket, dissolve the 3 Tablespoons of kosher salt into the 4 cups of water. Add the blanched rind, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, drain the rind.

In a good size pot combine the sugar, vinegar and the 1 cup of water. If heat in the pickles is desired, then also add the mustard seeds and red pepper flakes. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Place the sliced lemon, crushed cinnamon, and cloves in cheesecloth. Again, if heat in the pickles is desired, then also add the peppercorns. Tie up the cheesecloth and place in the pot. If lemon juice is used instead of the sliced lemon, then add the juice to the sugar and vinegar.

Let the pot simmer for 15 minutes. Then add the rind. Bring to a boil again. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 15 more minutes.

Once cooled, scoop the rind pieces into a jar. Pour enough syrup into the jar to completely cover the rind.

I suspect that Mom used white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar and either red or green food coloring in order to get the colors. 

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