Watermelon Rind Pickles & Pickled Beets

To our amazement, the melons that seemed utterly annihilated by the hailstorm in June bounced back to produce an abundance of large, sweet, juicy melons. The native melons “de Castillo” won me over on the first bite, and the marbled seeds of the Navajo watermelon are a marvel in themselves. We somehow managed to have some watermelon left over from our volunteer appreciation pancake breakfast, so the flesh became juice and I decided to try making pickles with the rind that was left.

I ended up with only a couple cups of rind to work with, and didn’t have any of the spices yet at hand, so I had to adapt the ingredients and procedure slightly. They turned out tasting a bit like vinegary apple sauce — not particularly exceptional on their own, but made for a nice quick addition to salads and braised veggies. I would certainly recommend making a larger batch, but I have done my best to approximate what I actually did this time around rather than try to guess as I tried to scale back up. The original recipes from Epicurean and Ball that I referenced should provide more practical proportions.

The pickled beets, meanwhile, could not be simpler or more delicious. Simply boil beets until they tender but still retain just a hint of a crunch, then peel, cut into slices and pack to the brim of a jar, fill jar with balsamic vinegar to cover, screw on the top, and let marinade in the fridge for at least three days. They will keep for a month or two in the fridge, getting even more amazing with each passing day!

Watermelon Rind Pickles

1 cup watermelon rind, peeled of green skin and cut into thick cubes or strips
2 cups water, or enough to cover rind
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Apple cider vinegar
A teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger, or desired seasonings to taste
2 tablespoons honey, or desired seasonings to taste

Boil rind in salted water for a few minutes, until fork-tender, still giving some resistance. (I accidently cooked them much longer, until they were quite soft, which was also alright). Drain and rinse them, then place them in a jar and pour in enough vinegar to cover. Cover jar and place in fridge overnight. At some point the next day, pour the rind and vinegar into a pan, add spices and honey, and return to a boil. Pour mixture to jar, place in fridge, and let marinate for another day before serving. These should last for about a month in the fridge.

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