A nice ripe watermelon is right up there with tomatoes fresh off the vine as defining moments that it’s truly summer. I cut up the melon and keep it in the fridge – perfect cold snacking food when the temperature climbs. But for all the watermelon I’ve eaten, I’ve never given a second thought to the rind beyond putting it in the compost bin. I have some very talented friends that have been pickling all kinds of things lately that inspired me to look at that rind a little differently even though I’m fairly certain I’ve never even had pickled watermelon rind. I’m thinking it’s about time.
I did a Google search for recipes and found all kinds – some very time consuming and complicated and some relatively easy. Why did I pick the one I did for this first go around? Basically because it was the one that I had most everything on hand to make. Their recipe said to cut away all signs of the pink flesh, but another recipe I read left some on and since I thought it might be prettier that way, that’s the route I went.
Pickled Watermelon Rind
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar or honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp whole cloves
4 small, dried chiles
4 wide strips lime peel
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds peeled watermelon rind, cut into (1/3-inch) chunks (about 5 cups)
Put vinegar, water, sugar or honey, salt, cloves, chiles, lime peel and ginger into a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add rind, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until rind is tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes.
Spoon contents of pot (with pickling liquid) into glass jars, seal tightly and chill overnight. Serve right away or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
I couldn’t wait to pop the lid on my first attempt at watermelon rind pickles and I found them both tangy and sweet (think bread and butter pickles) and the flavor of the cloves definitely comes through. I would use more dried chiles next time for a little extra kick. I wouldn’t say there’s a lot (any?) watermelon flavor that comes through but they are crispy, crunchy and the acidy would make them a great garnish to sandwiches or used in a chutney. I definitely see more pickling in my future. Stay tuned!