Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Some thoughts on watermelon rind pickles

Every time I make watermelon rind pickles, I find myself thinking about the story behind them. Who was the woman whose pantry was so empty that she made pickles out of scraps to get her family through the winter? Or did she have an over abundant watermelon crop and started experimenting with it? Or was she so thrifty that she couldn't stand to see all those peels go to waste? I started making them because I was so curious to find out what they tasted like. And who doesn't have leftover watermelon rind in the summertime ?
The response at the farmers market was a mixture of nostalgia ("Aunt Gertie used to make those ") and intrigue (I' ve never heard of that I have to try them!)
I love the history behind preserving food in this way , and I love that the process of canning gives me the head space to remember my mom when she was packing garden cukes in quart sealers and the way the kitchen smelled of hot vinegar and spices. Or of our friend Yvonne , who left me the best salsa recipe known to humans and who swore that it was good because she only used Roma tomatoes to make it. I hope my kids have memories of canning smells and their favourites that they can pass on as well. Maybe they will wonder what possessed me to make watermelon rind pickles.
Here's the recipe:

Use the white part of the rind from two large watermelons. Cut into 1" pieces. Soak overnight in a bowl of water in the fridge.
Combine the drained rind, 6 cups water, 6 cups vinegar and 6 cups sugar in a large stock pot. Add:
2 chopped lemons
2 inches peeled and chopped fresh ginger
About 15 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
Boil for about one hour , or until the rind is translucent. Remove the spices.
Water-bath can as per your preferred method.

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