Canning: Pickled Watermelon Rind

I don’t think I’ve ever had pickled watermelon rind, but everyone talks about it with a faraway look in their eyes, and a smile on their faces . . . so I had to try it.

Use a medium-sized watermelon, and cut the rind into 1 inch strips. Pare off most of the red watermelon, and then pare off the outside green rind, and you should have mainly the white.  I think my watermelon might have had a thinner rind than most — if you’re making this pickle, use a watermelon with a hefty rind!

Cut the 1 inch strips into 1 inch squares.  You should have about 4 quarts. Put all the rind in a large glass (non-metal) bowl and sprinkle 1 cup kosher salt and water to cover.  Weight the rind down with a plate, and put it in the fridge. (Actually, I didn’t have room to use the fridge in the house, so I set it on my porch table outside, and at night in the mountains it’s 45 or so degrees — it’s my fridge annex).

Let it sit overnight. In the morning pour off the salted water and rinse the watermelon and drain it.

Next, put the rind in a pot, and then pour in water to cover.  Simmer the rind for 30-45 minutes until it starts to become translucent.

In the meantime, put the following spices into a square of cheesecloth:  6 sticks cinnamon, 1 tablespoon cloves, 1 tablespoon allspice, and 1 inch of peeled ginger (you could substitute 1/4 tsp of mustard seed for the ginger) and 1/2 cup thin sliced lemon.  Tie the cheesecloth shut and drop it into a pot with 3 cups water, 3 cups sugar and 3 cups vinegar.  Now don’t get squeamish about those three cups of sugar because the other recipes I looked at listed 7-8 cups of sugar for the same quantity of rind!

Let the vinegar-sugar brine boil with the spices for about 15 minutes.  Then drain the rind and add it to the vinegar-sugar brine and let it simmer until it’s mostly translucent.

Then pack the rind into hot prepared jars (you’ll need 5-6 pints or 11 half-pints) pouring through a funnel, and add brine to within 1/4″ of top of jars.  Seal jars and process in water bath for 10 min at sea level, 15 minutes at altitude. This pickle will not be sugary sweet, and it tastes best ice-cold. I’ve also heard it’s great in chicken salad . . .

Pickled Watermelon Rind makes 5-6 pints

4 quarts watermelon rind, peeled and cubed

1 cup salt and water to cover

Let cubed rind sit in salt water overnight, then drain, rinse and drain again.  Heat rind in fresh water to cover for 30-45 minutes.

VINEGAR-SUGAR BRINE

3 cups vinegar

3 cups water

3 cups sugar

Spice bag:  6 sticks cinnamon, 1 tablespoon cloves, 1 tablespoon allspice, 1 inch ginger root and 1/2 cup thinly sliced lemon

Simmer spices in vinegar-sugar brine for 15 minutes.  Then add rind and simmer until translucent.  Pack into hot jars and process for 15 minutes at 5000 feet, 10 minutes at sea level.

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