FLORIDA WATERMELON PICKLES

FLORIDA WATERMELON PICKLES

Don’t throw away those watermelon rinds! Pickle them instead.

1 lg. Florida watermelon
Salt water (1/4 c. salt to 1 qt. water)
1 c. water (for each lb. of rind)
1 c. vinegar (for each lb. of rind)
2 c. sugar (for each lb. of rind)
1 tbsp. whole cloves
3 sticks cinnamon

Weigh the prepared rind.

In large container, place the rind in enough salted water to completely cover the rind. Soak overnight, or for 12 hours.
Drain well, rinse in cold water and let stand in ice water 1 hour.

In enamel or stainless pot, heat water to boiling and boil rind rapidly about 10 minutes, until half tender. Drain.

Using for each pound of rind 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, and 2 cups sugar, place in cooling container with cloves and cinnamon tied in cheesecloth. Boil to a thick syrup. Add drained rind to boiling syrup; bring to boiling point, then cook gently until rind is clear and transparent. Remove spice bag.

Pack rind in hot, sterilized jars and pour boiling hot vinegar syrup over rind. Seal at once. Use new style canning jars which require no processing. Or, with old style jars, process by placing in boiling water bath (212 degrees) for 5 minutes. Store jars in cool place several weeks before using, to allow pickles to steep in the flavorful syrup. Yield: about 6 pints if 20 pounds of watermelon was used.

So what do you do with pickled watermelon rind? You can serve it on any relish tray, have it with a not-so-traditional antipasto course, or as a side with a sandwich. My favorite time to have a piece of pickled watermelon rind is in the evening following a heavy meal when I still want a little something sweet but there is no room for dessert!

Pickled watermelon rind is one of those things you either adore or you think those of us who do adore it are nuts! For me, it evokes childhood memories of being around some outstanding country cooks who didn’t waste anything. When the summer produce started coming in, that which wasn’t canned or made into jam, including using the pits and peels of everything to make jelly, was pickled.

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