A week ago a friend of mine had to go out of town, so I had the privilege of watching his affectionate cat, SuperStar.
When I showed up the first day, there was a note that the watermelon on the table was for me. I love watermelon, so I gladly hefted it back home.
As I was carving up the first half, a thought hit me: I’ve never had pickled watermelon rinds. I had no clue what went into them or what they would taste like; however, it was a chance to make something new PLUS I would be using something that normally would end up in the compost heap. That made the frugal part of my brain happy. My water bath canner had been in the closet for more than a month, and I was going through canning withdrawal. What a great way to fix that – with a new-to-me recipe. I pulled out a ziplock bag and saved those rinds to explore the possibility.
Google told me that the rinds (just the whites) are pickled in a sweet vinegar concoction. With my curiosity piqued, I made them.
Since I wasn’t sure if I would like them, I decided not to make the full three quarts the recipe called for, so I only prepared the rind from half the watermelon.
This watermelon happened to have a very thin rind. Good for eating, bad for pickling, at least in bulk, but it would still work. I cut off the pink flesh, then with my peeler I removed all the green, leaving only the white part. I ended up with a quart of rind, which I soaked in a brine over night.
After rinsing the rinds, I brought them to a boil to soften them. I then created the pickling solution: Lots of sugar and vinegar, and a little pouch of seasonings – cinnamon stick, whole cloves, and multi-colored peppercorns.
The rinds behaved exactly the way the recipe said they would. I’m used to my canning creations disobeying the laws of thermodynamics, but this was smooth sailing.
Out of the quart of rinds I began with, I ended up with a single, lonely looking jar of pickled rinds, along with a few left over to try.
I liked the texture a lot. The taste… Hmmmmm. The rinds basically became a device for carrying the sweet vinegar mixture. What it was lacking was a more powerful flavor of anything other than sweet. Since I did only a quarter batch of the recipe, the seasoning pouch was only half submerged as I was cooking the vinegar mixture. Perhaps if the seasonings had been submerged, more flavor would have come out.
Well, pulling out all the canning supplies for one pint seemed like such a waste. So once the rinds were done, I ran up to Costco and bought the two-pound pack of blueberries. I finished up my morning making jam.
With my canning itch scratched and my jam pantry happier, I put everything away.
How many of you have tried pickled watermelon rinds? or What was the last new-to-you recipe that you tried?