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Watermelon Rind Pickles
and How to make a Bouquet Garni
When I was in my 30’s, I worked at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, where I was first introduced to watermelon rind pickles and many other southern specialties. Being the born and breed northern gal that I am, I learned a lot about southern food; grits, cornbread, country ham, black-eyed peas and collards were all foreign to me. I had never heard of watermelon rind pickles and the fact that you could make “pickles” from watermelon “rinds” always peaked my curiosity.
In my world, Pickles meant pickles. The kind of pickles that you bought at the grocery store, came in a jar and maybe, a spig of dill was thrown in for good measure. It seemed to me that in southern cooking, “pickle” is a general term used for all things “pickled.” With all that being said, I’ve wanted to make Watermelon Rind Pickles ever since. What has taken me so long to make them? Well, to be honest, I haven’t been canning that long, a few years really, but I finally feel I can “tackle” the watermelon rind pickle. So here goes!!
A delicious pickle!!
- 5 pounds watermelon rind
- 6 cups water
- 1/3 cup pickling salt
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons pickling seasoning make a bouquet garni
- juice from 2 lemons
Cut the green and pink parts from watermelon rind; discard green and pink parts. Cut the white part of the rind into 1-inch pieces; measuring 9 cups. Transfer the rind to a large bowl. Combine the 6 cups water and pickling salt; pour over watermelon rind (add more water, if necessary, to cover rinLet stand at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight. Drain; rinse rind.
In a large Dutch oven, cover watermelon rind with cold water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Drain.
In a 6-quart to 8-quart kettle or Dutch oven, stir together the sugar, vinegar, the 1-1/2 cups water, and pickling bouquet garni. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Add the watermelon rind and lemon juice to the kettle. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes or until rind is clear. Discard bouquet garni.
Prepare 3 pint jars and lids; wash jars and lids in hot sudsy water and rinse well. Heat the lids and jars by pouring boiling water over and letting them stand in the hot water until you use them. Fill a water-bath canner half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. In another large kettle, bring additional water to a boil.
Immediately ladle the rind and hot sugar mixture into prepared jars, filling to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Quickly cover with lids, screw bands on firmly. Place the jars on the rack in canner. Fill canner with additional boiling water so that the water reaches 1 inch over jar tops. Cover and bring to a rolling boil. Process for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and cool. Check the seal on each jar. Set on cupboard and leave undisturbed for 24 hours.
Store in a cool, dark place. (will keep for 1 year)