My CSA box included a football sized watermelon last week, so I decided to try making some Watermelon Pickles.
I followed the recipe and technique here: http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/watermelon-rind-pickles.
I adjusted the seasonings to suit me, using a piece of fresh ginger slice in addition to cinnamon and nutmeg, and I was out of allspice berries. If there weren’t a pit bull with a sweet tooth living in my house, I would have been able to use the coconut sugar that she suggests, which I’m sure would be swell. As it is, no bag of sugar is safe here, so I had to run and buy some plain white granulated stuff for this batch. They are still wonderful.
The soak-cook-reduce-soak-chill-reduce-cook-chill process takes a few days, but I am super happy with the flavor and texture of these! Her method isn’t hard, just time-consuming.
They are a blend of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy. They taste like watermelon, but not the fruit part, the less-sweet taste you get as you get closer to the rind. More melon-y. I associate these with the Deep South, remembering how my sisters made them when we lived in KY and MO in the 60’s. They are strong and definitely work as a condiment, and I can see them next to a plate of southern cole slaw and bbq.
But then I had an idea; what would they be like if I put them in my dehydrator? Well as it turns out, they ROCK! These little fruit leathers are even better than the chunks soaking up the syrup in the jars! I wanted to be able to share some with friends out in California, but couldn’t figure out how to get a jar full of syrup out there. Now I think I’ve found my answer!
The dehydrator step adds two more days to a process that already took 3, so these are definitely not ‘fast food’. However, the payoff is so delicious, and I can see dipping into these come mid-winter when the taste of watermelon is a mere memory of the warm days of fresh-from-the-farm produce of summer!