Watermelon rind pickles. I am so trendy. A freaking hipster. I’ve even been wearing my dark-rimmed glasses the past week. (My contacts were digging into my eyeballs and oh yeah I forgot to order more.) Get ready, I’ll be getting thick, blunt bangs and a sleeve tattooed. Reading ‘zines and seeing shows. Right. My ‘zines are National Geographic and Smithsonian. I’m no hipster. I’m like a freaking pioneer. Though I’m not sure of what proportion of progressive to historic. Equal parts both? Making butter from raw cream? Olde tymey yet so cutting edge? So yes, I’ve taken the dive into pickling. I have a feeling I might have to get into other forms of preserving, what with more apricots than I know what to do with. The only thing is that I’m kind of lazy and canning feels like it’ll be more of a process than it really is and it takes me a while to get motivated enough to set it all up and start. These pickles had been crowding the fridge in my giant Dutch oven, waiting to be canned, for way longer than I’d planned… it was really annoying, actually.
Oh hey, it’s July. I hope I am making the most of this summer. I’ve hiked rim to rim to rim, backpacked in the mountains to escape like 110 degree heat, been biking to work most days, pranced around in my bathing suit in my backyard, planted a lovely little vegetable garden, taken after dinner barefoot walks, been to baseball games, eaten gobs of ice cream, and gotten disgustingly sweaty running during my lunch hours and simply blotted myself off with paper towels before going back to work. Then hung my sopping running clothes about my desk to dry. I am the best coworker.
I also got fivefingers. I’m sorry. They were on super sale. And Joe was getting mad at me for walking around so much barefoot. And not being terribly supportive when I’d come upon broken glass. One too many “I told you so” looks and I figured I should keep my eye out for a sale on those goony shoes. I found them, and as it happens, they are nothing like barefoot. But, marginally more so than my little minimal trail runners. So, they’ll have to do. In the meantime, I’m going to keep encouraging him to watch Dual Survivor. Then maybe he’ll be swayed over to my side. MITOCHONDRIA!
It sure does seem a shame to chuck like half of the weight of a watermelon in the trash, doesn’t it? Not that I’ve pickled all of the rinds of every watermelon I’ve eaten since making these… that’d be a lot of pickles. A lot. My next batch that I’ll make should be less sweet. These have a lot of sugar in them. They’re a little overwhelming to eat a lot. But they’re good, don’t get me wrong! They are spiced and sweet and clovey and will be so amazing in the fall and winter. Now that I’ve finally canned them. Phew.
watermelon rind pickles
adapted from Canning for a New Generation
rinds of one medium-size watermelon
3/4 cup salt
3 quarts water
3 cups turbinado sugar
3 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
3 cups water
1/2 tablespoon whole cloves
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cinnamon sticks, broken into 1-inch pieces
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1 lemon, quartered
1. If you haven’t eaten all of the watermelon (come ON!), cut away the pink from the rind and the green peel on the outside. Cut the trimmed rinds into 1/2″ x 2″ strips.
2. In a large stock pot, mix the 3 quarts water and the salt to create a brine. Add the rinds and refrigerate for five hours or overnight.
3. Drain the rinds and rinse well.
4. Put the spices and lemon chunks in cheesecloth and make a little sack. In a non-reactive large pot, combine the sugar, vinegar, water, and the cheesecloth sack. Heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the watermelon rinds and refrigerate at least overnight.
5. Bring the pot to boiling, then reduce heat to medium-high for about 40 minutes, cooking the rinds until they are just translucent. Depending on how you cut the rinds, the cooking time will vary a bit.
canning! (you don’t have to do this. you could just eat them from the fridge.)
6. Pack the rinds with liquid into clean jars. Leave 1/2 inch headspace at the top of the jar. Wipe the rims clean and place the lid on. Lightly twist on the rims.
7. In a stock pot of boiling water, place the jars on a rack or trivet at the bottom of the pot. The water should cover the jars by about an inch. Mine didn’t… I kept bathing the jars with a ladle. Don’t do it like I did. I don’t want a lawsuit on my hands. Boil the jars for about 15 minutes.
8. Remove the jars and let sit for an hour. Check the seals. If any of the seals didn’t vacuum, then just chuck those in the fridge and eat them. They’ll last a while. For the other jars, let them sit for 24 hours before moving them.
Then you’re done! You’re a pioneer! Or a sister wife!