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.