I was always indifferent about watermelon pickles. Never tasted them. They sounded kind of weird. But this is summer and we (mostly I) consume watermelon by the ton, not by the pound. After listening to my sister-in-law talk about how yummy hers were, I asked to see the recipe.
The recipe was old, penciled on a faded piece of thick yellow paper. The first thing that jumped out at me was the amount of sugar…..3 1/2 POUNDS! Did I read that right? They must have meant 3 1/2 CUPS. Nope. I got my magnifying glass out and sure enough, it was pounds. Okkaaaay.
Next, I read: “Then on the second day……” and then, “On the 3rd day…………”
I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend a week making a batch of pickles.
My last mental hurdle was where on earth I was going to find the cinnamon and clove oil the recipe called for. I’m smart enough to know you just can’t dump essential oils in your food. After calling around to my local CoOp, pharmacy and 3 grocery stores, I finally found food grade oils online at a place called Olive Nation, a pastry supply store.
The recipe starts out by saying “Peel the melon”, which is an instruction I almost completely overlooked. I sliced the melon, cubed the edible part and put that part in a large bowl. My Sister-in-law said she always left a little pink on the rind for color so I did the same. I cut the rind in 1 1/2 in X 1 in pieces and par boiled them until the rind could be pierced with a fork.
Now time for the liquid. I dumped my 3 1/2 pounds of sugar in a pan then added the quart of vinegar I thought the recipe called for, which seemed reasonable, considering the amour of sugar. Hmmmm. Maybe I should check that amount again. You know. Just in case. To my horror, the amount was a pint of vinegar, not a quart. I spent the next 10 minutes trying to siphon off 2 cups of vinegar before it “became one” with the sugar.
I poured the spicy sugar syrup over the drained rind, and simmered for 10 min, then was done for the day. The second day I did the same…..brought every thing to a boil, then simmered for 10 min. and let it sit.
The third morning I broke out my caner and Mason half pint jars. Brought the rinds to a boil and filled 7 jars plus one to eat right away, then processed 10 min. in a water bath. I was done by 10:00 AM. They came out pretty darn good, just like bread and butter pickles. Even son Giver Man liked them and he hates anything with vinegar, including ketchup.My favorite way to eat them is on toast with a slice of sharp cheese melted on top.
In hindsight: An 8 jar yield from one watermelon was a good start but did not justify the time spent. Next time, I will use at least 2 watermelons. And note to self: Check ingredient amounts BEFORE I add them. Lessons learned!