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Jun 11, 2007 10:22 PM

Watermelon rind pickles?

My grandmother, who is now gone, used to make great watermelon pickles. Unfortunately, she never wrote the recipe down. She was from rural Iowa, and the recipe was handed down to her. It probably originally came from the smorgasboard-style spreads of Scandanavia as her parents were immigrants. Do any 'hounds have recipes? Here's one from epicurious:

But I'd like to get more for comparison's sake before I try this one. My grandma processed her pickles, while the aforementioned recipe is for quick pickles, although it does call for you to reboil the liquid three times over three days. I've only ever made quick pickles, but I'd be willing to try real canning. I probably haven't had these pickles since I was twelve, but I'd say they were sweet and sour, less sweet than a sweet pickle, and slightly spicy (as in cloves and cinammon, not hot peppers).

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  1. The watermelon rind pickles in the Gourmet cookbook (newest edition) calls for processing the pickles. The recipe is good and pretty close to my Grandmother's (who was from Chicago), but I think my Grandma must have used the one in Joy.

    1. My mother's recipe uses oil of clove and oil of cinnamon, and is quite sweet.

      My question to you: Where do you find watermelons with rind thick enough to pickle? They have so little rind now, and once peeled, there's not enough left to pickle, lol.

      2 Replies
      1. re: bakergal

        I hadn't really thought about the rind issue. I'll probably buy an organic watermelon, so maybe the rind thing won't be that much of an issue. I think I'll use the epicurious recipe, and I can report back.

        1. re: bakergal

          Look for less ripe watermelons. Either early in the season or late in the season I'd guess you'd have the best luck.

          I'll try to remember to bring Grandma's recipe (Ohio). You soak overnight in lime water (the mineral, not the fruit) to crisp them, then boil in syrup, and I don't remember all the steps, but don't think it's a three day extravaganza. It is a true preserve--will keep without refrigeration. It includes whole cloves and cinnamon sticks and a sweet syrup, and my cousin always gloats when he gets the last bit.

        2. It is a long and involved process. I do have some old southern recipes. Also if you want them for Thanksgiving o Christmas you need to get started now. I've made them and have decided that the Old South brand found in most groceries and some speciality shops are delicious and I can spend my pckling time on hot dilly bean pickles.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Candy

            These were a favorite of my mothers. She also loved those sold by Harry and David.

          2. I make at least a case of watermelon rind pickles since my relatives love them. I use the recipe from Preserving Today by Jeanne Lesem.
            You have to brine the rind for 24 hours, then cook it until you can pierce it with a toothpick, then you cover it with syrup and let it stand for another 24 hours. If you are interested in all that work let me know and I will paraphrase the recipe.

            3 Replies
            1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

              AGM, would you mind going to the work of posting? I'm going to try the epicurious recipe, but if it doesn't get close to grandma's, I'd like to try another one. I'd also like to compare the spice ratios.

              I'm really doing this because I looooved them as a kid, and I know it would thrill my mom to bring her some homemade watermelon pickles when I visit because she loved them too. Though I now live in Texas, now that both my grandmas with rural Midwestern roots are gone, I've just been appreciating the "living closer to the land and using every scrap" philosophy more and more. I learned how to cook good food using organic and/or local products (from Madison, WI's awesome farmers' market) while in college in the nineties, but the deaths of my grandmothers, one ten years ago, one last fall, made me realize that such cooking methods, Chez Panisse and Alice Waters aside, are rooted in the lifestyles of the humble immigrants and their children who settled America and produced its food before the onslaught of processed food after WWII and the subsequent marketing blitzes that altered the cooking of my mother's generation. Thanks in advance.

              1. re: diva360

                No problem diva360 but I won't get to it until Monday. This weekend we are celebrating my parent's 60th anniversary!

                1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                  If anyone could paraphrase this recipe I'd sure appreciate!

            2. My mother used to make them too, but she did not brine overnight. Why is that necessary? I don't have a recipe, but they were tart-sweet, spicy, crisp, and colored like amber Venetian glass. Anyone know hot to do it WITHOUT the overnight brine?