Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickles

When your farm friend, Nat Bradford, is bringing back his family's heirloom watermelon right in your backyard you do two things; one is go visit the farm to see and hear for yourself first-hand about it, and the second is you anxiously await the new harvest so you can buy one of these awesome watermelons for yourself. Of course you can use any watermelon rind you have locally available to make these yummmy pickles.

Nat Bradford, me, and a gorgeous 30 lb Bradford Watermelon

The Bradford Watermelon has been grown in Sumter County, South Carolina for about 170 years and has a fascinating history. Read all about my first trip to the Bradford's farm.

Determined there would be no waste of this gorgeous watermelon, I decided to make Watermelon Rind Pickles. So sweet, yet tangy and soft, with a nice texture, they are not mushy at all, and are so delicious. Serve them on a cheeseboard with some shaved prosciutto or other thinly sliced deli meat, with a variety of cheeses and crackers. Yummmm!

3 quarts (about 6 pounds) watermelon rind, unpared
¾ cup salt
3 quarts water
2 quarts (2 trays) ice cubes
9 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
1 tablespoon (about 48) whole cloves
6 cinnamon sticks, 1 inch pieces
1 lemon, thinly sliced, with seeds removed

This is a 2 day process 
Day One:
Trim the pink flesh and outer green skin from thick watermelon rind. Cut into 1 inch squares or fancy shapes as desired. Cover with brine made by mixing the salt with 3 quarts cold water. Add ice cubes. Let stand 3 to 4 hours.

Drain; rinse in cold water. Cover with cold water and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes (do not overcook). Drain.

Combine sugar, vinegar, water, and spices (tied in a clean, thin, white cloth). Boil 5 minutes and pour over the watermelon; add lemon slices. Let stand overnight in the refrigerator.

Day Two:
Heat watermelon in syrup to boiling and cook slowly 1 hour. Pack hot pickles loosely into clean, hot pint jars. To each jar add 1 piece of stick cinnamon from spice bag; discard lemon slices, and cover with boiling syrup, leaving ½ inch head-space.

Remove air bubbles and adjust head-space if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process half-pints or pint jars 10 minutes in a boiling water bath or steam canner.

Yield: 4-5 pints

Original recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation


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