So when I put “Make pickles” on my bucket list, I sort of meant traditional dill pickles. While I am hoping to make some of those, too, I was super intrigued by a recipe I came across in a Better Homes & Gardens canning magazine I picked up last summer for Watermelon Pickles. Earlier this week, I finally got around to making them, and I can’t wait to try them!
To be honest, making watermelon pickles is kind of a time investment (but what kind of canning or jamming doesn’t take a bit of time?). The recipe suggests that it takes about an hour of prep time, plus standing overnight, plus 45 minutes of cooking, plus 10 minutes of processing time. I figure that hour of prep time and the 45 minutes of cooking time can be combined with listening to your favorite podcast or music (I chose Dinner Party Download and Radio Lab 🙂 ), and the overnight part can just be spent sleeping!
To start, you’ll need a watermelon that weighs approximately 10 pounds. I cut it into slices, and then cut out chunks of the watermelon and put the chunks in a big bowl. I probably ate about half of the watermelon in between cutting it up and getting the rind ready, and I admit this openly.
Next comes the tricky part of removing the pink flesh and the green outer portions of the rind. I found that placing the rind as flat as I could on the cutting board and sort of pulling the knife toward my hand was the easiest, but you’ll obviously want to be super careful and find what works the best and in the safest way for you.
From this point, things get quite a bit easier. You chop the rind into squares or other 1-inch shapes, put them into a large nonmetal bowl, and add water and pickling salt.
Then it’s time to let the rind soak overnight…
The next day, you’ll rinse and drain the rind, transfer it to a pot filled with enough water to cover the rind, bring it to boiling, and then let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, you can prepare your syrup. I used cloves and cinnamon sticks from a local spice shop in Grand Haven. It was so much cheaper than going to the grocery store, and I could choose exactly the amounts I wanted.
Combine sugar, white vinegar, water, cinnamon and cloves, bring to boiling to dissolve the sugar, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
Then strain the mixture through a sleeve, reserving the liquid and discarding the solids. Add the tender, drained rind to the syrup, and bring to a boil before simmering, covered, until rind is translucent. Above, you can see the stage my rind had reached before I canned it.
Lastly, you pack the hot rind and syrup into hot, sterilized canning jars, leaving headspace, and processing for 10 minutes. I got three pint jars out of my rind with some leftover syrup, though the recipe suggests using 6 half-pint jars.
My favorite suggestions I’ve seen online for eating watermelon pickles are trying them in a salad with goat cheese and walnuts, making hors d’oeuvres by wrapping a half a slice of bacon around them and baking them in the oven until the bacon is crisp, using them as a little decorations on sugar cookies or cupcakes, topping ice cream or yogurt with them, using them as a condiment, or just eating them straight out of the jar! I also found a recipe for Sparkling Pear Floats that I am going to try with some of my leftover syrup. I’ll keep you posted on how I consume my delightful watermelon pickles, and in the meantime, leave you with the recipe!
(from Better Homes & Gardens 2013 Canning Magazine)
1 10-pound watermelon
6 cups water
1/3 cup pickling salt
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
15 inches stick cinnamon, broken
2 tsp whole cloves
1. Cut rind from watermelon (you should have about 4 1/2 lbs rind). Trim off pink flesh and the green outer portions of the watermelon rind. Cut rind into 1-inch squares or other 1-inch shapes. Measure 9 cups rind.
2. Place the 9 cups rind in a large nonmetal bowl. In another large bowl combine the 6 cups water and the pickling salt; pour over rind (add more water if necessary to cover your rind). Cover bowl and let stand at room temperature overnight.
3. Rinse and drain rind mixture. Transfer to a 4-quart pot. Add enough water to cover. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until tender; drain.
4. Meanwhile, for syrup, in a 6 to 8-quart stainless-steel, enamel, or nonstick heavy pot combine sugar, vinegar, the 1 1/2 cups water, the cinnamon, and the cloves. Bring to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Strain mixture through a sieve, reserving liquid. Discard solids; return liquid to pot.
5. Add rind to syrup in pot. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes or until rind is translucent. Pack hot rind and syrup into hot sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims: adjust lids and screw bands.
6. Process filled jars in a boiled water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks. Makes 6 half-pints.