Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Watermelon Rind - yes, Watermelon Rind - pickles

Growing up in Kentucky, there were several steakhouses that had fabulous salad bars - something relatively new back in the 1970s. One of my favorites on the salad bar (I was definitely in the minority on this one) was watermelon rind pickles. Yes, who knew you could make pickles out of the rind of watermelons. (BTW, I don't actually like watermelon - lol).

A couple of years ago, I decided to give it a try myself and found a great recipe. These are fabulous - sweet, hot, spicy, crispy.  You've got to try them. Yes, I KNOW it sounds a little strange, but trust me! (I usually make two batches at a time.)

Quick Watermelon Rind Refrigerator Pickles
Makes 2 pints

5 cups water, divided
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 pound of watermelon rind, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (should be about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1-2 cups sugar, depending on how sweet you like it (I usually use about 1 1/4).
2 tablespoons mixed pickling spice (you can find this in either the spice aisle or in the area where they have canning supplies - I use McCormick's Pickling Spice. Ask someone if you have trouble finding it).

Blanch rind:  Bring 4 cups of water and the 3 tablespoons of salt to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat, stir until salt dissolves. Add the rind, reduce the heat, and simmer until it is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Skim off any foam. Drain and transfer into a large, very clean bowl.

Make brine: Bring the remaining 1 cup water, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the vinegar, sugar and pickling spice to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.

Combine and store: Pour the hot brine over the rind. Use a small plate or a Ziplock bag partially filled with water (I use the Ziplock bag) to hold the rind under the brine. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer the rind and brine into clean glass jars (I use Mason jars), cover and chill before serving. Keep refrigerated - they'll keep several months.

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