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The new moon is upon us, and so is H20 melon, our juiciest favorite fruit of them all. I've been thinking a lot about watermelon these days: in salads, frozen fruit pops, as a snack on it's own, and as the humbled pickle.
Initially I thought I'd write about a fun salad I developed for a food event I'm teaching in August, but then recently I was at a friend's house where I tasted the neighbor's pickled watermelon rind. It reminded me I didn't have any on-hand; I was due to pickle! What I love about this recipe is that it utilizes the waste of melon. Typically one would discard the rind, unaware of it's use or potential. And I did the same years previous, but that was until I read about it in a preservation cookbook 7 years ago. When my pantry becomes bare, I wait until summer to make more.
Once pickled, it's best enjoyed as a salad topping, in a cocktail -kimchi martini, I may add- or as an accoutrement for a charcuterie/cheese platter. All these ideas make pickling rind so much more enticing, don't you think?
This recipe can be processed in a hot-water bath, and is included in step 3. However, you could stop at step 2 and share with friends.
You can also adjust the spices/flavours by adding/deleting ingredients. I went a more non-traditional route this time and used preserved lime. It's also really good with lemon, ginger and cinnamon. The sky is the limit with this one. You don't want to add ingredients that cause unfavorable fermentations and affect the pH like that of fresh herbs, use dried instead. Some recipes do call for fresh herbs, but those have been adjusted to accommodate the change of pH. Use reputable sources for pickling when preserving, but if you're planning on refrigerating and eating within two weeks, you don't have to worry.
PICKLED WATERMELON RIND -the humbled pickle-
makes 3 quarts
2 lbs peeled watermelon rind, cubed (about 1 small melon)
48 oz. water
3.25 oz. kosher salt
1 lb sugar
12 oz. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 preserved limes, julienne slices
2 tsp black peppercorn
6 dried chili's
(I like to weigh ingredients when it comes to pickling; it's more precise than measuring)
1. In large bowl, combine diced rind, water and salt. Allow to stand for 4 hours, then drain and rinse. Transfer the rind to a pot and cover with 1" water. Bring to a boil, decrease to a simmer, and cook until tender/translucent, about 20 minutes. Drain.
2. In a pot over medium-high heat, simmer sugar, vinegar, lime, black peppercorn, and chili's. Once the sugar has dissolved, pour over watermelon rind, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours or up to 2 weeks.
3. If you're keen on preserving/canning, here's what you do next: skip refrigeration and strain the brine, reserving the rind and spices. In a hot water bath, boil the jars in a fitted rack for 10 minutes -you'll use this same pot to process the jars. Just before filling, put the jars on the counter and divide the rind, chili's and spice among the jars (roughly six, 6-8 oz jars for this recipe). Soak the lids in hot water to soften the seal.
4. Transfer the brine to the jars by carefully pouring over the rind, leaving a 1/2" space from jar's rim. Check the jars for air pocket. I use a chopstick and stir around the contents to rid the jar of air. Add more brine if needed. Wipe the rims with a clean towel to ensure a clean seal, then screw on bands until snug but not tight.
5. Process jars by placing them in the pot with a rack, making sure enough water covers the top of the jars by 1". Bring water to a boil and process 15 minutes. You'll want to start the timer when the water reaches a boil. Turn off the heat and remove the jars. Allow to cool completely, label and store in a cool, dry place.
Sadly, I had one casualty ... one jar didn't make it
you win some, you lose some
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