Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

So, watermelon season is drawing to a close. As an homage to my southern roots, I decided to put up a few pints of pickled watermelon rinds this year. Mmmmm. Pickled Watermelon Rinds seems to be an American invention...and an acquired taste. Lo Gung despises these pickles. (Oh well - more for BBJ and me!) They're intensely sweet, and intensely sour, with a sniff of cloves thrown in for a kick.
In other words, they're divine!
I used the recipe from the 75th Anniversary edition of Joy of Cooking, modified just a bit for the amount of watermelon I had on hand. (About half of the watermelon the recipe called for. The original recipe called for 20 pounds of watermelon, to yield 8-10 1-pint jars. I had one 10-pound watermelon.)
First, cut your watermelon into eights, then cut away most of the red flesh. Save it, eat it, juice it...just don't pickle it. Not crunchy = Not tasty here.

Once the flesh cut away, you can hold your watermelon rind in your hand and, using a vegetable peeler, careful pare away the green outer rind. You want to be left with just the white part on the outside. The green part will never get soft during the pickling process.

(Do you love how I'm multitasking here? I fed the kids lunch while I was prepping my watermelon. If I do big cooking projects while they're asleep...they don't stay asleep for long!)

Once your green outer skin is peeled away, you can dice up your rinds. Cut them into pieces that are approximately 1" square. (Incidentally, these pickles aren't really good for anything except snacking. Not as far as I know. Anyone else have any great uses for these fabu little pickles?)
Blanch your little pickle-ettes in boiling water until they are crisp-tender, about ten minutes. Drain and set aside in a large non-reactive bowl or another container you can cover.

Now for the fun part - the pickling!

Gather your materials: white vinegar, sugar, cinnamon and powdered cloves.

Put your ingredients together in a large pot (I used a 5-qt dutch oven) and bring to a boil.

Pour your boiled syrup into your large bowl, just covering the watermelon rinds. Cover and let them hang out in the refrigerator overnight.

On the second day, drain the syrup back out into a large pan and bring to a boil again. Then pour it back over the rinds. Cover and let it chill out, just like the first night.

(That golden wire-y thingy in the bowl up there is called a "spider" and I LOVE it. It's perfect for scooping things out of liquids. We use it for wontons, making pickles, boiling greens...whatever needs to be scooped and drained! I picked mine up at a restaurant supply shop in Chinatown, but I've seen them all over the place. The bamboo handle makes it nice and sturdy - my plastic "spider" tends to bend when I scoop up anything heavy.)

On the third day, put the whole mess into a big pan and bring it to a boil. Remove the rinds to your prepared jars, then add your hot syrup. Process your cans....and you've got pickles that will last the rest of the year!

Pickled Watermelon Rinds
(Adapted from Joy of Cooking)
Day 1: Slice, de-fruit and peel 10 pounds of watermelon. Cut the watermelon rinds into 1" squares and blanch in boiling water until crisp-tender - about ten minutes. Drain and set aside in a large non-reactive bowl.
In a large skillet or pot, combine 3 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup distilled white vinegar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. ground cloves.
Bring to a boil. Pour over the watermelon rinds. Cover, cool, and store in the refrigerator overnight to plump the pickles.
Day 2: Drain the syrup back into a large skillet or pot. Bring to a boil. Pour over the pickles. Cool as on Day 1.
Day 3: Prepare 4 or 5 pint-sized jars for canning. Pour the pickles and syrup into a large pot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, pack the hot rinds into your prepared (read: warm) jars, then pour in enough syrup to cover the rinds and leave 1/2" of headspace. (Any pickles that lack the proper amount of syrup can be packed away into jars and put into the refrigerator for immediate consumption. Or foisted off onto your friends. Make sure you pick friends that like intensely sweet and sour pickles, otherwise you might lose your friends.)
Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
(For more information on how to can, visit www.FreshPreserving.com)

No comments:

Post a Comment