watermelon rinds are said to be southern, which is funny because all the people
I know who eat them are from the North.
If you were
to be given a slice of watermelon (having never seen one), and were told it was
edible, I am sure you would start with the ripe, red flesh. And then, as you
neared the rind, your taste buds would tell you, "Stop! That's
This makes me
wonder, who the heck thought of making something with the rind? My assumption
is that these pickles were born of the "waste not, want not" frame of
mind. Use every possible part of the vegetable or animal.
subscribe to this, and save chicken carcasses, beef bones, vegetable scraps,
and shrimp shells to make a variety of stocks. Not only does it reduce waste, I
end up with stocks that are much more flavorful than ones that come in cans.
was unable to find any specific information as to when and where they were
first made, I did find references to pickled melons as far back as 1832, when the
Massachusetts author and abolitionist Lydia Maria Child – probably better
known for writing the Thanksgiving poem "Over the River and Through the Wood" –
wrote of them in her book, The American Frugal Housewife (My thanks to
Markipedia for this reference!). Supporting the "waste not, want not" mentality, the subtitle for this book is, "Dedicated to those who are not ashamed of Economy." She called them mangoes, but she was talking
about pickled cantaloupe flesh, and not the rind.
In an 1887
issue of TheAtlanta Constitution, a recipe for pickled rind was published. It
called for cinnamon, cloves, and cassia buds (something similar to cinnamon in
flavor). The recipe is not too dissimilar to the one I use today.
figured this out - southerner or northerner - I am grateful to them, for these
pickles were a very special treat in our household when I was growing up,
always making an appearance in the relish tray on special holidays.
We used to
buy them every year from the Vermont Country Store, when we were there on summer
vacation in the town where my mother was raised. My parents would stock up for
each coming year. They came in a tall, narrow jar - the kind that required a
skinny pickle fork to retrieve its contents.
pickles, the rinds take on a translucent, rather jewel-like appearance after
being boiled for several hours. We served them as a sweet and spicy contrast to
a roast - beef, pork, or chicken - and just the taste of them makes me think of
Christmas, which (for those of you who worry about shopping time) is coming
very soon. This past weekend I saw my first Christmas decorations exhibited for
The recipe I
share with you today is a traditional family recipe from my friend Patricia,
who got it from her grandmother, Claire. The process is actually quite simple,
but I must warn you that it takes a lot of time... a minimum of 36 hours, during
most of which the pickle maker is able to sleep, work, eat, read, or watch
If you like
unusual pickles or preserves, I highly recommend these. They make wonderful
holiday gifts, if you can bear to give any away.
Patricia, for sharing this family jewel!
watermelon, about 15 pounds, with thick rind
maraschino cherries, drained
watermelon lengthwise and cut into 1-inch slices. Using a sharp knife, remove
the thin, dark green skin, and then remove the red flesh as close as possible
to the pale, white-green rind. Save the red-pink flesh for another use. Cut the
pared rind into bite-sized chunks, and place in a large bowl.
rind with the salt; cover with cold water. Place a plate on top of the rinds to
keep them submerged. Let this mixture sit 8 hours, or overnight.
in salt water, drain the rind and place in a large soup kettle; cover with
fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and boil for 1 1/2 hours. Drain.
rinds are boiling, put the sugar and vinegar in another large kettle and bring to
a boil for 30 minutes. Add drained rind. Place spices (cinnamon, cloves, and
peppercorns) in a piece of cheesecloth and tie into a bag using trussing
string. Add spice bag and drained cherries to the rind and syrup and boil for
40 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover; let sit for 8 hours.
resting period, remove the spice bag and bring to a boil, and boil for 20
minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove rind from the syrup and pack tightly
into hot, sterile one-pint canning jars. Fill with syrup. Screw on the covers,
and process is a boiling water bath (fully submerged) for 10 minutes.