Please don’t say it! Ok, I will…I’m trending now. I am cringing as I say it but there it is. And here is the one of the new trending foods: pickles. A few years back a dear friend gave me her mother’s watermelon rind pickles as a housewarming gift. Honestly, I thought it a little weird-watermelon rinds-pickled? I have since been educated to the Southern history of the rind and thought I’d just try it out myself. On my quest for the most fabulous pickled watermelon rind I took a look of several recipes. There was much said about how to process the rind and other stuff. Then I found a House & Garden recipe from 1962. I stopped right there. So giving credit where credit is due, of course, I did modify the recipe to meet the weight of the rind once cut. Also, I added some extra spices to liven it up; and didn’t follow the traditional hot-bath jar process. Yes, it is a bit unconventional but yields a delicious “trendy” result – if I do say so myself.
4-6 C of pickling salt
6 pounds watermelon rind, with green skin & a little pink flesh
8.5 cups sugar
5 cups white vinegar
5 cups water
3 oranges, sliced very thinly
3 lemons, sliced very thinly
4 whole pieces of star anise
Pickling Spices & Fresh Ginger Root
5 sticks cinnamon
1 tablespoons whole allspice
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon cardamom seed pods, crushed
1” piece of fresh ginger, julienne
Cut a watermelon as you would usually. Scrape off any pink flesh from rind. Cut rind (both green & white) into ¼ to 3/4” squares. The objective is to get the pieces as close to the same size as possible. Place cut rind into a deep non-reactive container. Cover with cold water & add the salt (salt to water ration is: 1/4 cup salt to 1 quart water). Leave the rind in the salt water overnight. The next day drain the rind & rinse with cool water. Place in a deep, non-reactive stock pot, cover with fresh water and cook 1/2 hour, or until just tender. At this point the green skin may still be a little tough. That’s ok. Drain rind again. In same stock pot, stir together sugar, vinegar, water and fruit.
Add all pickling spices and ginger root to the sugar mixture. Begin to stir mixture thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring semi-consistently until the sugar dissolves. Add watermelon rind and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the rind is translucent and the juices syrupy. Ladle hot mixture into sterilized preserving jars. Cover each jar and seal.
Sterilizing Jar for Refrigeration
Run jars and tops through the dishwasher at high heat. Take out of dishwasher with a clean cloth.
Try not to touch the parts of the jar and tops that will be in direct contact with the pickles.
Pour hot pickles into a jar leaving a 1” gap at the top. Repeat for each jar.
Secure lids on each jar and tighten firmly.
Let cool then place into the refrigerator immediately.
This process is for refrigeration storage only.
Tips & Permissions
1. It is OK to leave a little bit of the pink or yellow flesh on the rind. In fact, if a little of the pink is left it becomes brighter & adds a little pop of color to the pickles.
2. Rind can be cut any size you want-really. It is contingent of how much cutting you want to do, how big your jars are & just plain preference.
3. Non-Reactive means using a tool or pan that with not react with acids-no aluminum or uncoated iron. Can use stainless steel, Pyrex (glass), coated metal.
4. If you do not like pickling spices in your pickles then place all spices in a cheesecloth bag. Place in stockpot with all other pickling ingredients.
5. Please feel free to experiment with spices and herbs. In this recipe I used fennel seed which is unusual but adds a phenomenal flavor dynamic. When trying out new spices and herbs always think about what works with the ingredient you are pickling.
6. I’ve always like to make my own spice combos. That said, I think it’s important to know what a traditional pickling spice packet contains. This is a general ingredient list for a traditional pickling spice packet: peppercorn, allspice, ginger (pwd), bay leaf, juniper berry, cardamom seed, dill seed, mace, coriander seed, mustard seed, cinnamon stick, cloves