One of my resolutions for this past summer was make time to reconnect with treasured friends. On one particular trip, I headed to Capitola to see one of my good college friends, affectionately known as Nit. We spent time walking on the beach, reading endless recipe books and laughed more than I thought was humanly possible. The result, I brushed off a few of her old time recipe books and came across this gem of a recipe. It sounded so unusual that my curiosity got the best of me and I had to make them before summer’s end. The critics vote- RAVE reviews – even Prima and Secondo liked them. While I realize that many of you may not ever try to make these, I hope you will be as intrigued as I was to learn more about them. They proved to be quite a conversation starter at parties, and they are so unusual, I just may make them again next summer.
Old-Fashioned Watermelon Rind Pickles
Makes 5 (12-oz.) jars, 4 pints
Prep: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Cook: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Stand: 16 hours
1 large watermelon (about 7 lbs)
¾ cup salt
2 quarts ice cubes
1 TBS whole cloves
1 TBS whole allspice
1 (3-inch) square cheesecloth
9 cups sugar
3 cups white wine vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
1 lemon, thinly sliced
5 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
Quarter watermelon and remove pink flesh and reserve for another use (like dessert!). Peel green skin from watermelon rind. Cut enough rind into 1-inch cubes to yield 12 cups and place cubed rind in a large container. Discard any remaining rind.
Stir together salt and 3 quarts water and pour over rind. Add ice; cover and let stand 8 hours, or overnight in refrigerator. Rinse well, multiple times, and drain.
Cook rind, on high, in water to cover with lid for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and place in large non-metal container.
Place cloves and allspice on a 3-inch square of cheesecloth; tie with kitchen string. (If you don’t have any cheesecloth, you can also substitute a new nylon stocking cut down to the needed proportions.)
Stir together sugar, vinegar and 3 cups water in pot; add cheesecloth bundle and bring to a boil. Bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Add the drained watermelon rind. Boil gently until rind is transparent and syrup is slightly thickened, about 45 to 55 minutes. Stir in lemon slices. Cover and let stand 8 hours, or over night in the refrigerator.
In a large pot, bring rind and syrup mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Discard cheesecloth bundle.
Pack rind mixture into 5 hot (12-oz.) jars, filling ½ inch from top. Add 1 cinnamon stick to each jar. Remove air bubbles; wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids and fasten lids.
Process in a boiling water bath 10 minutes.