Pickled Watermelon Rind
Most recipes make toothachingly sweet pickles with a lot of warm spice like cloves and cinnamon. This may be OK for some, but we wanted something more versatile.
Why This Recipe Works
The green skin on a watermelon is inedible, so it needs to be peeled. To make peeling safer, we lopped off a little bit from both ends of the melon so it stood upright on the cutting board. Then we used a chef’s knife to remove the green layer from the exterior. We liked the look of a little pink left on the rind, but too much will gave the pieces a spongy texture. Leaving just 1/4 inch of the flesh intact gives the pickles a nice tinge of color without imparting any off-textures. Salting the pieces draws out a surprising amount of water, ensuring crisp pickles and seasoning them at the same time. While pickles made with cucumbers only need to sit in salt for a few hours to release sufficient water, these dense chunks need 8 to 12 hours of draining. A layer of ice on top ensures they become cold as quickly as possible. Most recipes make toothachingly sweet pickles with a lot of warm spice like cloves and cinnamon. This may be OK for some, but we wanted something more versatile. For a clean profile with a bit of flair, we settled on rice vinegar, water, and granulated sugar for the brine and lemon grass, ginger, peppercorns, and cardamom for flavorings. In our book, a too-soft pickle is a punishable offense, so we pack the pieces in the jars raw rather than simmering them in the brine (as called for in many recipes. We pour the hot brine over the cold, raw rinds and then transfer them to the fridge to pickle. It takes a full 10 days before they are ready (not surprising given watermelon rind’s tough nature), but they are definitely worth the wait.