My great-grandmother, a true Southern belle and prolific home cook, used to pickle watermelon rinds. As a kid, this sounded absolutely horrifying to me. I had once come face-to-face with a jar of pickled eggs at a convenience store in Homestead, Fl. There I was, about age 6, furrowed brow and puckered lips, wondering who in Hell would ever eat a pickled egg. The juice looked almost green and the imprisoned eggs kept bobbing up and down ever so slightly – as though they too were disgusted with themselves and were trying to make an escape. It was then and there I vowed never to eat a pickled egg, this girl would be keeping it kosher from now on, pickled cucumbers only please.
Just this past week, my mom was out here visiting and we happened to be eating watermelon. I remembered my mom telling me over the years how her grandmother used to pickle watermelon rinds and I was curious if she had truly liked them. Undoubtedly, she answered “yes, they were really good as I remember them.” So, together we perused several recipes, developing one ourselves which appeared most authentic.
Twenty-four hours post pickling session, I tried them. I won’t lie, I was somewhat hesitant. I made my husband and sister-in-law try them in unison with me. After all, if I was going down with a stomach ache, I was not going down alone. Bright, tart and sweet, these pickles seemed promising. I could julienne them and add them to a salad, I could add them to a slaw – I could envision several applications. Still, it was a bit too tart for my taste. In my opinion, the only thing that should make one pucker, is a good lemonade, so I had to make some adjustments.
I decided to drain the pickling liquid and using an immersion blender, proceeded to blend the rinds, creating a chutney. An amazing difference indeed. Once the pickling juice had been removed, the rinds actually took on a more sweet and tangy flavor, reminiscent of a mango chutney. We ended up making falafels that night with some spicy vegetables and the watermelon rind chutney was the perfect accompaniment. This will be something I make again this summer as I am a big fan of condiments. Garrett even had the great idea to add the chutney to spicy sauages for our next BBQ – nom, nom, nom.
Not only is watermelon rind chutney delicious, it also has many health benefits. In fact, it is even used in Chinese Medicine, where it is known as Xi Gua Pi. Various health benefits include: improved erections, reduced blood pressure, antioxidant release and enhanced libido. Who knew watermelon rinds can put a capital W in making Whoopie?
This was a fun food item to make. If this is your first time pickling something, have no fear, I have a really easy version that does not require racks or tongs – though you will need to keep your chutney refrigerated because of this shortcut.
All the hipsters are pickling these days, so join those cool kids with their slicked back hair and flannel shirts and make this yummy dish for your next gathering.
- Watermelon Rinds 1-inch-cubes (from an 8lb watermelon, dark green skin and red removed)
- ¼ cup of kosher salt
- 2 cups of white vinegar
- 3 cups of sugar
- 1 cup of simple syrup (or another cup of sugar)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tsp of whole cloves
- Place the rind in a large bowl and toss with salt. Cover the rinds with cold water. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Drain the rinds. Using a large pot, fill half way with water. Add the rinds and boil for about 10 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from heat and drain.
- Using the same pot, bring 2 cups of water, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon and cloves to a boil. Add the rinds, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Pour the rinds and liquid mixture into clean glass jars. Allow to cool, then refrigerate over night.
- Drain the rinds. Place rinds in blender and pulse until chunky - to an applesauce consistency.
- Leave in refrigerator for up to one week.