I am currently reading a fabulous novel about an American Pioneer: Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E Turner. Given the huge watermelons we have been picking, imagine my surprise when I read this line from Sarah’s mother, “I best be making some pickled watermelon rind.” I instantly grabbed my phone, turned on Google, and searched watermelon rind pickle because, to be honest, I didn’t believe such a thing existed. After all, who eats the rind? I was amazed to find a number of recipes, but was still sceptical until I read that they go beautifully with cheese and wine. I was sold! So the very next day I set out to make some.
I adapted a recipe I found on taste.com http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/1625/watermelon+rind+pickle
The first step was to cut 1 kilogram of the rind into five centimetre strips. Other recipes suggested leaving a one centimetre strip of pink flesh to add colour so I did that.
The rind was then covered in 1/4 cup of salt and 4 cups of water. This was left to soak overnight.
The next day in my biggest scanpan I put 4 1/2 cups of sugar along with 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns, 2 1/2 cups white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon whole cloves, 3 cinnamon sticks, 5 strips orange rind, and 2 cups of water. The recipe called for more cloves and less cinnamon and orange. I don’t like cloves, but love cinnamon and orange hence my fiddling with the amounts. This mixture was slowly heated until the sugar was completely dissolved. The watermelon rind was then added to the pot.
The mixture was supposed to simmer for 45 minutes or until the rind was transparent and the syrup had thickened. After 45 minutes the syrup was not thick, nor were the rinds transparent. After much stirring and watching I finally deemed them ready after three hours! Even then the rinds weren’t that transparent.
I carefully spooned the mixture into jars I had sterilised in the dishwasher earlier. Once the lids were on tight they were turned upside down for a few minutes and then put the right way up. It was exciting to hear all four jar lids pop to show they were sealed.
The jars are now in my pantry as they must rest at least 3 weeks before eating. I really hope it was worth the effort!