I have been putting off writing this post for over a month now. First I was busy, then I had all those other exciting recipes to share, then I was busy again, then I spent my time making popsicles...and I would really like to write about those as well.
I don't even know why this one has been so hard.
Because, I do think this has been one of my favourite kitchen projects in a while.
But it's also been one where I haven't gotten any 'that's kinda nice' feedback on. Either people were raving about it, standing in my kitchen, forks hovering over the jar of pickles or they were trying to inconspicuously spit them out again (yes, I am looking in your direction, Mimi :) ).
Since Berlin is pretending to have Monsoon season today I decided to stop procrastinating on this whole project so I can tell you all about avocado popsicles next time.
I got started on this whole pickling project when I was trying to figure out how to make peanut butter spread without marshmallow fluff, and then somewhere along the way the internet told me about candied (or pickled) watermelon rinds.
So, since I like watermelons, and because all I do in the summer months is throw away watermelon rinds, I decided to find out what on earth pickles watermelon rinds would taste like.
I found a recipe on The Bitten Word which is originally from the National Center for Home Food Preservation and it worked like a charm.
Before you get started, a word of warning - this recipe takes a few days. Don't expect to be done within a few hours. So if you are going away on a holiday tomorrow, perhaps you should wait until you get back. And if you hate waiting, this is probably not your kinda recipe either.
But if you like experimenting and don't mind coming back to the same recipe 3 days in a row, then I can't recommend this enough. Because the pickled watermelon rinds are amazing and the pickled lemon rinds you are making as a side product are to die for!
Pickled Watermelon Rinds (after The Bitten Word)
Enough Watermelon Rind to fill a 2 litre container once it has been cut into 2.5x5cm pieces (the rind, not the container...)
750ml White Vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
1 tbsp Whole Cloves
6 Cinnamon Sticks
1 tbsp Allspice
Cut remaining pink bits and the green skin off the white watermelon rind. Then combine the salt and 3 litres of water and cover the watermelon rind with the brine. Zach and Clay suggest refrigerating the rinds but my fridge isn't that big (or empty) so I simply left them overnight in my kitchen. Either way, leave the rinds for at least 5 hours. I ended up leaving them for 24 hours and that seemed to work just fine.
Whenever you're ready to come back to the rinds, drain them and rinse off any salt that might remain on the surface. Then cover them with water in a stockpot or large saucepan and bring the water to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until you can cut the rind with a fork. Apparently if you cook them for too long, they will become rubbery so no running off and watching re-runs of your favourite TV-show.
Drain the rinds.
Wash the lemon, then cut it into really thin slices, removing any seeds as you go along.
Combine the sugar, vinegar, water and spices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. After simmering for 5 minutes or so, pour the mixture over the rinds, then add the lemon slices.
Leave the mixture to infuse and do whatever the vinegar does when you're pickling stuff overnight or until you get home from work the next day.
Heat the entire mixture and then keep it simmering for an hour over a medium heat.
While you're waiting for the hour to pass, sterilise some glass jars. I filled two 1 litre glass jars, but smaller ones will work just as fine.
Find out how to seal your jars. I use glass Weck jars and seal them in the oven because I don't have a stockpot big enough for them. Change this if you use different jars.
Fill the rinds into the sterilised jars, then add the vinegary syrup, leaving enough headspace according to how your jars work - if you are using Weck jars, keep in mind that there is a difference between the old and new jars!
You can add the cinnamon sticks as well - they look very pretty in the sealed jars, but if you are planning to leave the rinds for a month or more I would only add a small piece - one of my jars had a few in and when we opened it the other week for a barbecue it had a very Christmassy feel to it.
If you are sealing your jars in the oven, add the lid and secure it.
Heat your oven to 175˚C and sit the jars into a gratin dish filled with water. Wait until you see air bubbles inside the glass. Turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the oven for another 30 minutes or so. Then let the jars cool at room temperature. Don't forget to check the seals once the jars are completely cooled.
The pickled rinds are really nice straight from the jar, and divine when you eat them with any kind of meat - barbecued pork, the thin-cut sausage you find at German butchers', with a hamburger - probably lots of other stuff as well but that's all I have tried so far.
Oh, and the lemon slices are amazing with some vanilla ice-cream!