Sweet watermelon rind pickles warmly spiced with cinnamon and star anise. They taste like Christmas.
Pickling watermelon rind is a 2 to 3 day process that is mostly wait time not hands on time for which you will be richly rewarded. To start the rind soaks in a salt brine for a few hours or overnight then is slowly cooked for 10 minutes until fork tender. The cooked rind goes into a honey and spice syrup for another overnight soaking. The last step is to simmer the rind and syrup together at which point the bitter rind you began with is hardly recognizable.
The rind turns soft but not mushy with the texture of an apple or pear. Plus it has real depth of flavor instead of tasting of sugary sweetness mostly due to using honey instead of white sugar along with cinnamon, star anise and lemon. If you don’t like star anise you can use cloves, a little of both or leave them out altogether and just use honey and cinnamon.
This makes a small batch meant to be eaten within a few weeks. It’s possible to have a taste of summer all year-long if you’re up to canning a large batch.
Once you taste these sweet watermelon pickles you will never again throw away your watermelon rind. That would feel too much like wasting perfectly good food!
Sweet watermelon rind pickles warmly spiced with cinnamon and star anise.
- Trim most of the the pink flesh and all of the outer green skin from the rind. Cut into 1-inch pieces. To make the brine: in a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl combine the salt and water, stirring to dissolve some of the salt. Add watermelon and ice cubes; let stand 3-4 hours or overnight.
- Drain the watermelon rind in a large colander and rinse with cold water. Add to a large saucepan with enough water to cover them; bring to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes until fork tender but not mushy. Drain.
- Make the syrup by combining the honey, vinegar, water, and spices. Boil 5 minutes and pour over the watermelon; add lemon slices. Let stand overnight in the refrigerator.
- Heat watermelon in syrup to boiling then lower heat and simmer very slowly 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool then store in a large glass jar in the refrigerator 2-3 weeks.
Adapted from National Center for Home Food Preservation where you will find a large batch recipe with canning instructions.