Every summer I make a batch of watermelon rind pickles. I know there are some of you out there who think peaches are quite a bit of work – yes, they can behave like assholes as Patience so eloquently put it, but honestly, watermelon rind pickles are a far more pain in my ass than those peaches.
For starters, there is the fact that while at least one of the people who inhabit my house with me adores watermelon rind pickles to the point that she will go down to the basement, grab a jar off the shelves, pop it open and polish it off in one sitting, will not actually eat watermelon. It seems everyone else in this house is slightly allergic to watermelon and avoids eating it. So in order to make these pickles, I have to eat an entire watermelon by myself. All in all, not a completely herculean task, but still. I also have to find room in the fridge, stuffed to the gills this time of year with fresh produce like the dozen ears of corn I perpetually have in there (some people are known to eat an ear of corn as a snack around here), the several dozen eggs we have thanks to the girls, cold beer and an entire watermelon as well as the rinds awaiting pickling. A few times this summer I started saving the rinds, then ran out of room and tossed them to the chickens.
Which brings me to the question – who the heck looked at a watermelon and decided to pickle the rind? Watermelon rind is excellent chicken food – our girls go nuts over it. That’s some pretty prime feed right there. I’ve been reading about pickling whole watermelons and I’m pretty sure the practice stems from there. This friends, are the sorts of rabbit holes I fall into on the internet. Pickling whole melons.
I digress. I was talking about how making watermelon rind pickles feels like such an undertaking, starting with the fact that I’m the only one in the house who eats watermelon. Then comes the process of actually making the pickles. The peeling, the chopping, the soaking overnight, the simmering for hours on the stove in a non-reactive pot. Watermelon rind pickles and the amount of time they spend on a stove simmering in vinegar demand it. My nice caphalon stock pot is forever scarred by watermelon rind pickles. Whoops. I have a large stainless steel pot that is supposed to live in the basement for such things, but when I couldn’t find it yesterday, I put in a call to K.I. first, to see if she had one I could use. I was terrified of where I’d find mine. Thankfully, she was on the line when I gathered my courage up to walk out to the back yard to see this:
There, scattered among other MIA kitchen toys (hello little orange bowl!), half buried in the sand next to the dying purple soccer ball was my big stainless steel stockpot I use for pickles. Not only did I have to dig it out, there were some roots of the plants that had decided it made a nice home that had to be peeled off. A few rounds outside with the hose, a few more inside with some hot water and I think I got all the sand and plant matter off the pot. Last night , as I was wrapping up the canning process, I warned Edie there might be some grit in the pot, then showed her where I found it. She claims to know nothing about it, that I should stop handing my pots out to the young children who run through our house, because they will end up in the sandbox and I should know that by now.
She was very thankful however, that I spent the day making her watermelon rind pickles. When her father came in and complained how hot the house was thanks to the big pot that spent most of the 90 degree afternoon simmering away, she said not a peep, because she knew it was for her. She spent the afternoon popping in and sampling them, letting me know when they were getting close and even offered to help when I started jarring them up. She did a full inventory when they were done, asking when she could start popping them open and where exactly were they going to be stored. Right next to her case of pickled peaches and no where near my new hiding spot for my pickle pot of course.