Monday, August 29, 2011

Watermelon Pickles

This was my favorite book when I was 9.

I got it from our weekly book order
flyers at school.

And this was my favorite poem
in the book.

Pickled watermelon rind is made by peeling most of the green skin off the white rind that usually gets left behind once the red flesh has been devoured.
First, the white rind is cut into small chunks or wedges, then soaked in salt or lime water for as long as overnight. Next, it's drained and added to a pot of fresh water, where it is simmered gently until tender. (Boil your watermelon rind too hard and it will end up rubbery.)
At this point, the rind is drained and may be soaked again in vinegared water or added to a syrup that's been made by boiling together vinegar, water, sugar and spices like cinnamon, cloves and allspice. After allowing the rind to steep, this mixture is cooked for a few hours until the syrup is thick, at which point the watermelon pickles can be cooled and transfered to sterile jars.

On Being Green and Watermelon Pickles

We just bought a used truck which necessitated 
a trip to North Georgia to pick up the Pick-up. 
 my mind wandered to my years of rural living.
As the city sprawl dissipated into the rear-view mirror,

My father became intrigued by the 
“back-to-the-land movement” that began in 
the early 1970s. 
As a result, we packed up and moved 1,000 miles 
(almost exactly) from the suburbs of Boston to 
the foot hills of the Appalachian Mountains. 
We lived on a 30-acre would-be farm complete 
with three acres of blueberry bushes and a 
small flock of sheep. 
Mother Earth News subscriber, my father embraced the revived 
interest in the ecology movement and self-sufficiency.
Mother Earth News magazine was a campy, utilitarian publication which concentrated on do-it-yourself and how-to articles such as gardening, food preservation, home brewing your own beer, geodesic domes, and distilling your own ethanol for fuel. My favorite article explained how to use a rain poncho to pitch a tent, make a hammock, protect your food from bears, catch fish and use it as a sail for your escape raft.

I get tickled when I read articles about “going green.” If you truly turned green with every earth-friendly deed then I would be a lovely shade of Cal-Poly-Pomona green. While I would like to claim that my motives have always been 
purely altruistic, 
that is not the case. We were green because we
 couldn’t afford to be anything else.

In the spirit of self-sufficiency and  necessary thriftiness, absolutely 
nothing went to waste. My mother was the original "frugal gourmet.”
 Like the poncho, she could finagle several meals from one chuck roast.
 Necessity is not the only mother of invention, so is hunger.
 I read recipes for Brunswick stew made with ingredients
 specifically purchased for that purpose and chuckle out loud. 
Growing up it was an afterthought - all the left overs 
(or the edible remnants of the last butchering project)
 thrown in a pot with whatever seasonings you could rustle up.
 (I hope you are not looking for a recipe here because
 no batch was ever the same.)

Nowadays we pay more for organic produce. In my youth organic 
meant “home grown” and we ate it not to be healthy but because
 it was cheap or free.  We also ate anything we could forage;
 in other words, bird fodder, scavenged blackberries, 
dandelion and poke (weed) salad, crab apples, and scuppernong juice. 
We bartered blueberries for venison and traded
 zucchini for homemade sausage.

Nothing went to waste; ever! Take for example a watermelon; 
the quintessential symbol for the opening day of the Summer season. 
Eaten fresh, the lycopene-rich red flesh is 
refreshing and elemental. 
A spiked watermelon?  
How blasphemous! 
Not that I am a watermelon purist, 
but I actually
 like the flavor of watermelon. 
(Why did you buy the watermelon if 
you wanted it to taste like 
something else?) 
Amazingly versatile, frozen watermelon makes 
delicious granitas, as well as an
 invigorating mojito (courtesy of Ina Garten)
But wait, there’s more.
 With a coating of sugar and black pepper, 
watermelon grilled for 5 or so minutes on the grill is divine.

Then of course there is the rind. Before committing them to the 
obligatory compost pile, consider a batch of watermelon
 rind pickles. 
(My husband and children call me the Princess of 
Pickles or the Duchess 
of Dill because if it can't be frozen, I make it into pickles.)
 Possibly the earliest published recipe for watermelon
 pickles appear
s in the first known cookbook written by an 
American, Amelia Simmons’ 
American Cookerypublished in 1796. Since, 
her recipe for pickled melon bears

 very little resemblance to today’s 
pickled fruit recipes, here is my mine instead: 

6 cups peeled watermelon rind, cut into 1″ pieces
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 lemon, cut into slices
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Trim the pink flesh and peel the green outer skin from the rind. Be careful not to cut yourself because the outer layer is harder than you think. I used a vegetable peeler and patience. 
Once peeled, cut the rind into small 1” cubes.
 Cover the cubes with a brine made in the proportion of 1/4 cup salt
 for each 1 quart of water. Refrigerate for five hours or overnight.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, 
drain rind from the brine and place in boiling water. 
Cook until just tender which should take
 about 15-20 minutes or until watermelon 
rind is translucent. 
In a separate saucepan bring sugar, vinegar, cloves, 
cinnamon, and lemon to a boil over high heat. 

Pack the cooked watermelon rinds loosely into clean, 
hot jars. Cover with boiling pickle syrup, 
leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remember to 
remove air bubbles and adjust headspace 
if needed. Wipe the rims of jars with a 
dampened paper towel and secure lids. 
Let cool. Check seals and wait a day or two before opening to let the 
rind fully absorb the syrup. These are best served with grilled meats 
and Summer picnic fare.

A little bit more about watermelons:

Watermelon is thought to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. The first recorded watermelon harvest nearly 5,000 years ago is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Southern food historians believe that watermelon made its way to the United States with African slaves.

Like other members of the squash family, watermelons don’t continue to ripen once they’ve been picked, so this is an important clue to watch for. Since watermelons are 92% water, you want a watermelon that is symmetrical and evenly heavy. The outside rind should be firm and blemish free with a deep green shell. Look for the tell-tale “ripe spot”. It will be on the 
bottom of the watermelon and a light yellow or creamy color. 
This spot develops as the melon grows on the soil. If the spot 
is greenish or white in color, it’s not ripe yet. Conversely, 
soft spots are a sign it’s starting to turn bad. Best chilled at 
least 12 hours before eating. Be sure to scrub the outside 
down well with soap and water so that you do not drag the 

rms down into the fruit as you cut it open with your knife.
Taken from Recipes, reviews and ramblings
 from the kitchen of Denise and Dom Romeo..

These are Russian Watermelon Pickles.


Hope your Tuesday is
and wonderful
full of love and hugs.  ; )

Love to you all,
you little watermelon smackers!
xoxo d

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