|I love the coloring here!|
It may by now be evident that I don't just enjoy baking. After waiting FOREVER to get canning supplies, I have been bitten by the canning bug. It's a little time consuming, but kind of fun and very satisfying. Taking all these things and making them into something that will last and that my family, friends and I can enjoy much later feels good! Plus, when I make jam or whatever else, I know EXACTLY what goes into it and none of the ingredients start with high fructose, partially hydrogenated, or contain a dye number.
One thing I have always wanted to try is watermelon rind pickles. My mom used to make them and I'm pretty sure my grandmother did, too. I always liked the idea and so when I picked up a watermelon the other day, I decided to give it a try!
To start with, I had to take the watermelon and cut out the pink flesh. It was a smallish round watermelon and it had a lot of flesh! Once I did that, I used a vegetable peeler to peel the green off of the rind. I just wanted the white part. Do not be scared, but the act of peeling the rind with the vegetable peeler was no fun at all. Just make sure to aim the peeler AWAY from you. I have a nasty scar on my thumb from many years ago, when I first learned that valuable piece of advice.
When you're done, you should have a few bowls of beautiful, pink watermelon. Mine is destined for snacks, popsicles and possibly watermelon jelly. And you should have a bowl of the peeled rind, cut into small pieces. Now you're ready to start.
Watermelon Rind Pickles
(adapted from "In a Pickle or a Jam")
Yield: 5 8-ounce jars
cut up rind of one round watermelon
1/4 cup salt
3 cups sugar
2 cups vinegar
2 lemon slices
2 lime slices
3 cinnamon sticks
1 TBSP whole cloves
1 TBSP whole allspice (I'll admit here that I did not have whole allspice on hand, so I just added ground allspice)
Combine the rind with the salt and cover in cold water. Cover with a towel and let soak overnight.
The next day, drain the rind and cover with fresh cold water in a heavy stockpot. Heat water to boiling and simmer until rind is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Combine sugar, vinegar, lemon and lime slices in stockpot. Wrap spices in a piece of cheesecloth and add that in as well. Heat minutes to boiling and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. It should thicken a little.
The whole thing should be sweet smelling and aromatic and the rind should be very tender. Remove the spice bag and spoon the rind into hot, sterilized jars. Top off the jars with the remaining syrup. Cover the jars and place in a hot water bath to seal.
I sampled these and they are very flavorful! The cinnamon/cloves combo with the vinegar works great, I think. This recipe gave me five 8-oz jars and I'm thinking they might go fast. It's a good thing that it's watermelon season!