First, you consult every cookbook in the cabinet. You pull out all the ones that have a pickled watermelon rind recipe. Then you look to see what all the differences are and pick one.
Then, you take the rind of a watermelon. You peel the green outer layer off.
You chop it and soak it overnight in pickling lime. I read if you leave some of the pink on, it looks prettier. So I did.
You simmer it until translucent in a brine of sugar, vinegar and water, as well as select spices.
When it has achieved proper translucence, you pack it in jars, pouring the brine on top.
Process for 10 minutes and VOILA! Watermelon rind pickles!
I am the sort of person who hates to throw things out, I’m convinced I can get one more use out of it. I use vegetable scraps to make a broth before I put them in the compost bin. I turned a bedsheet turned shower curtain that I thrifted into matching skirts for me & Edie. If there is a way to find a new life for an object, I am all about it. So, watermelon rind pickles have appealed to me for years. I’ve never actually had one, but I love the idea. So, I finally decided to try them.
I pulled out every last cookbook I own and came up with 6 different recipes for them. Then I went on the internet and read some more about them. A friend who is a chef, who’s had them but never made them said to use pickling lime. Never used that before and only one recipe from my 6 had that. I found a recipe on a blog that used lime and it was from a New Orleans chef. The one recipe I had that used pickling lime was in one of those collections from a former college roommate’s grandmother’s church – you know the kind, the ones everyone submits a recipe for and they sell to raise money for something? I have a whole collection of them – all your best home cooking is right there in those.
Anyway, I had two seemingly credible recipes that involved the same proportions of sugar, vinegar and water, as well as similar spices. In talking to folks that have actually had these before, I made sure to ask about the spices, and the ones included in these two recipes came up time and time again.
A friend offered to come help, she’d actually eaten them before and so she had a good idea of what they needed to look like. She brought a few more recipes, one of which matched up with the two I was following, so I felt I was on the right track. Thank goodness she was here, because I probably would have jarred them up as soon as they started looking translucent. It’s a long time before they start looking that way and are totally that way.
The one deviation I made was cardamom. Betty said you needed it in there and one of the recipes called for cardamom seeds. I borrowed some ground from Betty and just threw it in, not measuring, just eyeballing. That’s the one part of the equation I’m not 100% on. Betty came by today though and looked at a jar up close and said they LOOK like the ones her grandmother made. In 6 weeks, we’ll know how close they are to TASTING like them.
Take one watermelon rind. Peel the outer green layer off with a vegetable peeler. Cut into 1 inch by 1 inch pieces.
Dissolve 3 teaspoons lime in 2 quarts water. Pour over watermelon rind and soak overnight. Rinse at least 3x, or until water runs clear.
8 cups sugar
4 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
Bring to a simmer.
Tie in spice bag and put in simmering liquid:
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 large piece of ginger
3 sticks cinnamon
1 tablespoon whole cloves
(Generous sprinkle of cardamom)
Simmer spices in brine for 10 minutes, then add watermelon rinds. Simmer until translucent – this actually took about 2 hours. Pack in jars, cover with brine and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
I used one decent sized watermelon and got a dozen jelly jars full.