As many of you saw in my last post, our watermelons are starting to ripen and we have a great influx of fruit to eat all of the sudden. After we cut up the first one, my husband looked at the huge pile of rind left over and said, "What do you want me to do with all of this?" I remembered having seen recipes for pickled watermelon rind so I said, "Throw it in the fridge. I'll see what I can do with it." That led me to the adventure of the last two days...
I looked in my cookbooks, on Pinterest, on various websites, and I finally settled on a recipe to try for Cinnamon Pickled Watermelon Rind. Here's the one I decided on:
1. Cut off any remaining pink fruit from the rind.
2. Use a potato peeler to remove the hard outer skin from the rind.
3. Cut the rind up into about 1" chunks. My one watermelon from the garden yielded about 17 cups of rind, a little more than the recipe called for but I just threw it all in.
4. At this point, I had three bowls. The extra watermelon (fruit) I gave to the chickens. The rind I tried to grind up for the birds but it was too mealy so I threw it in the compost. Lastly, you'll have your prepared chunks of rind, which need to go in a big bowl or pan.
5. Cover the chunks of rind in cold water and add 1 cup of salt. Cover and put it in the fridge to soak overnight.
On the second day...
6. Dump the chunks in a colander and rinse them off. Put them back into the pot and cover with cold water again. Bring them to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about ten minutes. The recipe says they should be fork soft at this point, like a potato before you mash it. When finished, dump them back into the colander and use your pot to prepare the brine.
7. In making the brine, I strayed a little from the recipe. More sugar than vinegar seemed extreme to me so I made mine with equal parts: 5 cups sugar, 5 cups vinegar. (I always like to have a little extra liquid so I don't run short trying to fill my jars.) Also add 4 cinnamon sticks. Bring it to a boil and then simmer five minutes, mixing to dissolve the sugar.
8. Add the watermelon rind back into the pot and cook on low until the pieces look translucent. The recipe says an hour but mine were done in about 45 minutes.
9. Pack the sterilized jars with rind and pour brine over to fill, leaving your 1/2" headspace. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes and then finally, after two days, you are done!
My 12 pound watermelon from the garden made five pint jars of pickles. Check them out at the farmer's market this week!
My husband said when he tried them: "Tastes like apple pie." They have the texture of a baked apple and some of that same sweet cinnamon-i-ness. I have read that in the south, they put watermelon rind pickles on everything from ice cream to pork sandwiches. I hope you will try them and send me a comment through my website to tell me what you think.