Nostalgia alert. One of the treats I remember on my Grandma Jasovec's farm in Ely Minnesota growing up was her watermelon pickles. Being a depression era housewife she was particularly thrifty and nothing went to waste. That includes the bitter watermelon rind. Think of sweet and sour with the warming spice of cinnamon, clove and allspice on the back note. Really a tasty treat and a childhood favorite.
Flash forward a few more decades and I've been craving these for a while. I have my grandmother's canning book and recipe so that's a big leap forward. The hold up in making them however was finding one of the key ingredients...pickling lime. You'd think in a city the size of Los Angeles it could be found, but you'd be wrong. Google searches didn't turn up the ingredient either. The purpose of the lime is to keep the rind green and soften it.
Sooo...off the the google board I went. I found several recipes that called for soaking the cut rind in salt, kosher salt to be specific to soften and keep the color. It is important to use kosher salt as the iodized crap will discolor the pickles.
That seemed easy enough to sub out and try. The rest of the recipe is from my Grandmother's canning book ca 1930??? from when she was a young housewife.
FYI...a 9.5 lb watermelon yielded the needed rind for the recipe. The edible flesh...cube and toss into a feta salad or similar. Maybe watermelon sorbet or sherbet?
Watermelon Rind Pickles
- 2 quarts hot water
- 1/2 c kosher salt
- 4 lbs watermelon rind cut into 1/2'X1" cubes
- 4 c water
- 4 c white vinegar
- 4 c sugar
- 3 cinnamon sticks cut in half
- 1 T whole allspice
- 1 t whole cloves
- 5-6 sterilized pint jars, lids and rings
Day 1. Cut watermelon into 1 inch slices. Cut the slices at 1/2 inch leaving roughly 1/2" by 1" cubes. Place rinds into a large non-reactive pan (stainless steel). Dissolve kosher salt in the hot water and pour over the watermelon rinds. Keep covered at room temp for 18-24 hours. Stir occasionally to ensure all rinds get a good soak in the brine.
cubed and ready for brining
Day 2. Drain Rinds. Fill pot with cold water and let stand 15 minutes. Drain and rinse in colander.
In large non-reactive pot add water, vinegar, sugar and spices. Bring to boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add watermelon rind. Bring to hard boil and then reduce heat to soft boil. Cook until translucent about 1-1 1/2 hours.
simmering rinds not quite got their pickle onWhen pickle is translucent pack pickles into sterilized hot canning jars. Top with pickling liquid to within 1/4 inch of top of jar. Add Lids and tightly fasten rings. Let set 1 week to cure before eating.
I put a half cinnamon stick and try to get some of the allspice and cloves in each jar so you see what the flavors are as well as taste them.