Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Watermelon Rind Preserves

Watermelon is the quintessential symbol of summer for me. It brings back memories of childhood summer's past, sitting outside with a large slice, the juice running down my arms and dripping off my elbows, spitting seeds into the grass. Is there anything better on a hot summer day than a slice of sweet, juicy, ice cold watermelon? I don't think so! Although you can get watermelon year-round now, it's not the same in January. I recently got a fresh from the field watermelon at our local farmer's market. It was just an old fashioned, full of seeds, watermelon. It was everything a good watermelon should be, super sweet and juicy with a firm texture. As I ate a large slice of it (yes the juice was running down my arms!)I remembered seeing a recipe for watermelon rind preserves. The rinds are edible and have a surprising amount of uses! I've never made watermelon rind preserves before but they are very common through out the South. So this time rather than just throw out the rinds, I thought I'd give the preserves a try.
This recipe is a bit like making a sweet pickle. First the rind is soaked in a brine then cooked down in a sweet syrup.
It's great served with freshly baked bread or biscuits. These preserves have a nice gingery flavor that would be a perfect accompaniment for either chicken or pork. In the South it's most likely to be found on a relish tray and served as an appetizer.

Watermelon Rind Preserves
1/4 cup salt
4 quarts water
1 3/4 pounds (about 6 cups) prepared watermelon rind *see note
One 3/4 inch piece of ginger thinly sliced
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 small lemon thinly sliced (optional)

Combine salt with 1 quart water: stir until salt is dissolved. Place the rind in a bowl and pour the salted water over the rind. Let the rind stand at room temp for 5-6 hours.
Drain and rinse rind, and drain again. Cover it again with 1 quart of cold water. Let rind stand for 30 minutes, then drain again.
Place the rind in the preserving pan with one quart of water. Bring water to a boil and simmer over low heat until the rind is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the rind in a colander.
Tie the ginger into a spice bag, and place the bag in the preserving pan. Add in the sugar, lemon juice, remaining quart of water and the lemon slices. Heat the syrup, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the rind. Simmer, uncovered, until rind is translucent, 1-1 1/2 hours.
Ladle the rind and syrup into pint or half-pint jars. Add lids and rings, and process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. For a complete guide to canning check out the USDA's site for guidelines.


Julie said...

This brings back pleasant memories of growing up on a farm in Oregon. The recipe is very country, very summer. All that's needed to complete the scene is a checkered table cloth, fried chicken, cold pickled beets, homemade bread and maybe some pie.

Justin said...

i've never made this, never tried it, never had it offered to me... so I just don't understand. but maybe I have to try doing it.

J.Danger said...

I have never used the rinds for anything! I think I may give it a go!

Gala said...

Wow! Never heard of this either. Well I guess you could make preserves from just about anything. Sounds weird enough for me to try it out...

Grace said...

this is not something i've tried, but i can see how it'd be delectable with some fried chicken. nicely done--waste not, want not!

Her name was Lola said...

Whatever happened to Half Baked Wednesdays?

I wish those days would come again!


Helene said...

Never heard of it. This looks so different to me and delicious.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of using the watermelon rind for anything, but the preserves sound interesting. The watermelon in my garden will be ready to pick in just a few days so I may have to give this a try.
Thanks for all of the delicious recipes so far!

Nancy said...

I remember my mom making these pickles every summer.
Every fall we'd open a jar and my father would taste one.. saying thoughtfully.. "hmmm well these are good but not quite as crunchy as the one's Aunt Cora used to make."
I've never made them.. my sister and I stick to the ever easy to make Bread and Butter Pickles!

Susan @ SGCC said...

Living in the South, I've seen pickled rinds many times. They're not bad at all (considering I don't like pickles). Your preserves are an interesting twist on them. I'll bet they'd be great alongside some crispy fried chicken!

Millionaire said...

I didnt know this can be done! thank u!