This is a terrific dessert on a warm night, a delicious accompaniment to grilled food, or a snack right out of the fridge. And, the best part is that it's made from something you usually throw away.
These pickles come from a 1996 copy of Better Homes and Gardens Canning & Preserving recipes. I've experimented with variations over the years, but this is the best!
• 4 1/2 pounds watermelon rind (enough to make 9 cups)
• 6 cups water
• 1/3 cup pickling salt
• 3 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
• 1 1/2 cups water
• 15 inches cinnamon sticks
• 2 teaspoons whole cloves
1. The most time consuming task is cutting the rind into 1-inch cubes. I like to cut the beast into quarters, then into strips, then use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough green skin. Be sure all the pink fruit is off the rind so your brine stays clear.
2. Cut into cubes to measure 9 cups, place in a large bowl. Combine the 6 cups water and pickling salt and pour over the rind. Cover and let stand overnight.
3. Pour the rind into a colander in the sink and rinse with cold running water. Place in a large pan and cover with cold water. Heat to boiling and reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the rind is tender. You'll watch it turn to a rich color. Drain.
4. At the same time, in a separate large pan, combine the sugar, vinegar, and 1 1/2 cups water. I make a cheesecloth bag of the cinnamon and cloves and submerge it in the liquid. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered for about 10 minutes. Them remove the delightful-smelling spice bag. Add the watermelon rind and return to boiling. Cover and boil gently until rind is translucent, about 30 minutes.
5. Pack rind and syrup into hot, clean half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles by running a sterilized knife around the product. Process filled jars in a boiling-water bath for about 10 minutes, adding minutes, depending on your elevation (actually, your geographic elevation — if you are standing on a chair, it doesn't matter). Lift jars onto a cooling rack and wait for the satisfying "ping" as each jar seals.
This recipe makes 6 half-pints.The taste and texture are quite extraordinary. Enjoy!
Dede Ryan began professional life as a journalist on Capitol Hill. She held reporting and editorial positions at U.S. News & World Report and Business Publishers, Inc., for more than a decade and has published hundreds of feature stores, restaurant reviews, essays and one novel. She also has been canning pickles and jams for decades and believes the process is soothing and offers a sense of connection t the earth. Read all of Dede's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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