Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Classic Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickles

Funnily enough, as I went to the cupboard and took out a jar of these pickles, it occurred to me that I hadn't posted a blog entry about them?!  I suppose it was because they are such a foreign food to me that I wasn't 100% sure of how they were supposed to look and taste (as they tend to be commonplace in the southern States).  Armed only with my preserving book and a mountain of watermelon rinds I set to canning this odd, but tasty treat!  Hopefully when watermelon season returns, you will remember this posting and try it for yourself, because I can assure you the taste is unique and fabulous roasted with pork!!!

Ingredients For Day 1:
16 cups cubed, peeled watermelon rind (about 1 large melon, rind cut into 1" cubes)
1/2 cup pickling or canning salt
Ingredients For Day 2:
2 sticks cinnamon, broken in half
4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups water
  • DAY 1:  In a large non-reactive bowl, layer watermelon rind and salt, using about 1/3 of each per layer.  Place a plate on top to weigh down rind.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hrs or up to 24 hrs.
  • DAY 2:  In a sieve, working in batches, drain rind and rinse well.  Drain again.
  • In a large pot combine rind and enough cold water to cover by about 1".  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  reduce heat and boil gently for about 10 minutes or until fork tender.  Drain well and set aside.
  • In a large clean pot combine cinnamon sticks, sugar, cloves, nutmeg, vinegar and 2 cups water.  Bring to  a boil over medium heat, stirring often until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add rind and simmer, gently stirring occasionally for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs or until rind is translucent and looks glassy.  Remove from heat.
  • Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.  
  • Using a slotted spoon, pack rind and whole spices into hot jars, leaving 1" headspace and dividing spices as evenly as possible between jars.  Pour in hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2" headspace and removing air bubbles. 
  • Wipe rim and place hot lid disc on jar.  Screw band down until fingertip tight.
  • Place jars in canner and return to a boil.  Process for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars stand in water for 5 minutes.  Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface and let stand for 24 hours.  Check lids and reprocess any jars whose lids did not seal.
*For a deeper flavour, replace all or half of the granulated sugar with packed brown sugar.  The colour of the pickles will be a dark caramel!*
*If you prefer a milder spice flavour, just discard the whole spices instead of adding them to the jars!*

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