Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pickled Watermelon Rind



This month I saw all my lovely blogger friends who are Daring Cooks producing cute little jars of apple and peach butter as part of this month's challenge focused on food preservation.  I have to say, this is definitely one month when I wished to be part of Daring Cooks since I love pickling and making preserves!  Even though I am not a member of this adventurous group, I do make my share of challenging and unique recipes, and I thought I would springboard off their challenge and share my latest pickling experience with you and ask for some suggestions.    


I found this recipe for pickled watermelon rind in Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio and I was drawn to it like a magnet.  (Don't ask why because I have no idea.  Maybe it had something to do with my hesitation to throw away all that pretty green rind.  Or, maybe I just like any recipe with the word pickle.)  The recipe seemed simple enough, and I thought it would be an interesting condiment to use with a summer fish dish or possibly in a relish. 

I couldn't resist this. 

I gathered together all the spices used for pickling, and I was excited to see that it also called for cardamom seeds, which seem to be a rarity in most recipes.  Altogether, the aromatics included peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander, fennel, and cardamom, and they smelled wonderful when they were boiling away on the stove.  


As I mentioned before, the recipe was so simple that you basically just get the brine boiling, pour it over the cubed watermelon rind, and let it sit in the fridge for 2 weeks.  For those experienced picklers reading this, I can tell you that I was a little skeptical that the rind would soften enough during the pickling without boiling the watermelon rind itself, but, like any good experiment, I just had to wait and see what the results would be. 


After 2 weeks, I pulled out my jar and tried a bite.  Hmm... It was definitely not totally 'pickled' and still had almost too much crunch to be palatable.   As for flavor, I could definitely taste the depth of the fennel and cardamom, but I figured I would give them another week or so to get the right texture. 


Fast forward to this weekend: Now that it had been a solid 3 weeks since I initially bottled the watermelon rind, I took it out again for a taste test.  I have to say that they still seemed a little tough around the edges, but definitely tasted interesting, and had a perfect flavor profile for fall-inspired dishes.  


So now, I have a few questions for you, my friends.  Those in the know about pickling, can you tell me: Are you supposed to cut off the outermost, waxy green portion of the rind and only eat the whitish flesh?  And as a challenge for creativity: What should I use this watermelon rind for?  A meat dish?  Relish?  Any suggestions?


While I wait for some of your ideas, I will just sneak a few of these pickled treats for a quick crunchy snack.  







Pickled Watermelon Rind
From Think Like a Chef, by Tom Colicchio
Think Like a Chef 


1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp mustard seed
1 tbsp coriander seed
1 tbsp fennel seed
1 tbsp cardamom seed
1/4 cup sugar
2 garlic cloves, smashed
3 cups white wine vinegar
Watermelon rind, from half a watermelon, cut into cubes


Combine all the ingredients, except for watermelon, in a pot and add 2 cups additional water; bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, put all the watermelon into a large jar.  Once the brine is boiling, pour it over the watermelon, cover or seal the jar, and place the jar in the refrigerator for at least 3 weeks.  Store in the refrigerator and use as needed, or eat for a snack.  

29 comments:

  1. What an interesting recipe. I bet it had a bit of the ying and yang effect. Enjoy your weekend!

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  2. Yum! I would totally slice this thin and put it into sushi -

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  3. id use the white part and put it into sushi...
    i thought it was so cute you actually did this!
    I dont think i would ever make it, but definitely try it!!!

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  4. I love that cookbook...it was one of the first I bought after getting married.

    Thin slices served alongside prosciutto and cheeses would be nice! Theresa

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  5. this looks delicious - great brine recipe! i had an aunt that would pickle the white rind and turn it into thin strips for jelly on homemade biscuits. she was the canning queen of the family! i never saw her do anything with the rind but put it in her compost pile, so i always assumed it was inedible, otherwise she would have found a use for it!

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  6. I have been pickling watermelon rind for years and I do peel the outer waxy layer of the melon. Then they are soaked overnight in pickling lime. The next day they are rinced very well and put in a sweet syrup with pickling spice I made the day before, brought to a boil and cooked until almost tranlucent. I cool them in the syrup overnight. Bring back to a boil the next day and canned. You can almost see through them and they are Delicious!

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  7. This is so cool, I've never heard of it before. Seems like a great salty snack. First you get the sweet watermelon, then this! :-)

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  8. I've never made them, but my mom's recipe calls for the green "skin" to be removed. (It looks really cute on yours though!)

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  9. Reminds me that I need to make watermelon rind kimchi in summer.

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  10. This is such an interesting recipe! It's definitely something I would try:)

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  11. I've never had pickled watermelon rind before... sounds extremely interesting!! Great photos Amanda!

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  12. My mother has made a similar recipe ever since I can remember... I always turned my nose up at it and said "No way am I eating the rind!". But then one day I tried, and oh my!! It was so good! Love your photos, they are so beautiful!

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  13. wow, never thought we could do such a thing with watermelon! love the recipe

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  14. OMG! I thought my boyfriend was crazy when he made this a few weeks ago! I had never heard of it before and he said he had grown up eating it.. smelled fantastic while all the spices were cooking away but I'm not sure how I feel about the snack as a whole.. he just snacks on them and I'm pretty sure he cut off the waxy part and just used the white flesh. So funny that you posted this! :)

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  15. you certainly seem to be on the right track, and I would think the outer skin wouldn't be edible, but I would just be guessing.....I give you credit for even trying it....thanks so much for sharing your results with us, I have learned so much from my friends this year!

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  16. i heard of watermelon rind pickeles too...but do let me know how it tastes! I am hesitant about trying it myself. your photos looks refreshing!

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  17. I have that book too and I love it. This is a pretty adventurous recipe--kudos for trying it out and teaching us about it through your experience. It definitely sounds interesting. I really like all of those pickling spices AND your watermelon rind smiley face! =D

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  18. That looks very interesting and adventurous! The rind is such a pretty color and I love your smiley face photo too - Cheers!

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  19. I've heard of these, but never tried them. So curious!

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  20. That looks so lovely :). I like this idea, a lot!

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  21. No wonder you were drawn to it - sounds like a fantastic idea... but I do wonder why it didn't soften enough... now what would I eat this with? I think something spicy - like spicy korean fried chicken and loads of rice.

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  22. oh this is lovely! It must taste like a salty summer in the Mediterranean :)

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  23. Wow, very interesting question and I would love to help but I would be faking (I know nothing about pickling - I just read yours until I get brave enough to try :) As long as the rind it not too tough I think it may add an interesting texture? Love the spices here, and I can just imagine the flavors :)

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  24. Megan and Morello Cherry: Sushi is a fantastic idea!

    Theresa: Esp love the idea of slicing and serving with proscuitto... Yum.

    Michael: Your expertise is much appreciated, and is also in accordance with a few suggestions from Twitter. I will slice off the green rind and enjoy the white pickled part!

    Jeroxie: I just saw a recipe for watermelon rind kimchi too! Want it!

    And just as an overall conclusion, after reading the comments here and discussing with friends on Twitter, it seems the rind is definitely inedible. The white part, however, is delicious on its own, and I have been pulling out a pickled piece here and there and just biting the flesh away from the rind. Awesome! The taste is definitely aromatic, and the cardamom flavors heavily. I will update here, or post a new recipe, to let you know how else I used them! Enjoy!

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  25. I am totally loving your blog! Beautiful recipes and photos. Just voted for you for Project Food Blog- good luck!

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  26. I wished I knew this, 3 days ago, as I had a two large watermelon rind going in compost pile. This is very great idea, something my grandmother would do, she would use up every part of veggies and fruits. I am bookmarking it.

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  27. I have wonderful memories of my Nana's watermelon rind pickles. Thanks for the recipe!

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  28. Wow this is awesome. I love watermelon and have never thought this was something you could do with the rinds. especially from texas, i use to eat watermelons every day in the summer!

    i should try this!

    thanks!

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  29. Inviting you the Carnival of Home Preserving on my blog today and every Friday. Hope to see you there. Laura Williams’ Musings http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com

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