By David Holloway | email@example.com ; www.al.com
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on July 08, 2015 at 7:27 AM, updated July 08, 2015 at 1:35 PM
In particular, I don’t think I expound enough on the tremendous joys that can be derived from the simple joys of selecting, slicing and eating a locally grown watermelon. It occurred to me the other day that I don’t write nearly enough about the stuff that’s going on around me.
I hear you, I realize that it doesn’t take much to actually amuse me or get my attention. I’m a sucker for a seal playing a song, for instance.
But when it comes to watermelons I confess to a certain myopia when it comes to watermelons. I tend to look past them until it’s too late.
Coastal Alabama, where I hang my hat, is home to some of the finest, sweetest melons to found anywhere. Right, I hear you again say that just about every section of every state can also claim to raise the best watermelons.
Everybody claims to have the right mixture of soil – some say acidic, some say alkali – and climate – some claim rain is the key, others say drier is better. But whatever the reason, good watermelons abound in just about corner of this great nation.
The right and proper method of eating a melon is the tried-and-true method of slicing it open and eating it on the porch. It also makes wonderful salads and the juice is a marvelous base for a number of tasty (ahem) beverages.
But one aspect of the watermelon-eating experience that is often overlooked, that being the part of the melon you come in contact with first – the rind.
Somebody a long, long time ago figured out that with a little bit of finagling you could take the outer layer of the watermelon and turn it into something really special, namely watermelon rind pickles.
Watermelon rind pickles are, to me, the epitome of old-school thriftiness and frugality. I can’t say for certain who was the first person to repurpose the green hide of the melon into a topping for biscuits, toasts or just about anything else that need a sweet topping. But whoever it was was very smart and resourceful and I thank the Lord for them.
So the next time you bring home a watermelon for the family to enjoy on one of these unbearably hot July afternoons, make sure you don’t throw out the rind. You will thank me for it later.
Watermelon Rind Pickles
1 pound watermelon rind (from a 3-pound piece watermelon)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse salt
1½ cups cider vinegar
1½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons pickling spice
Using a vegetable peeler, peel outer skin and tough green layer from watermelon rind; cut rind into 2-by- 1/2-inch strips.
In a medium saucepan, combine 5 cups water with 3 tablespoons salt; bring to a boil. Add rind. Cook at a rapid simmer over medium-high until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a heatproof bowl (reserve saucepan).
In reserved saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, pickling spice, remaining teaspoon salt, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt; pour hot liquid into bowl with rind. Use a small plate to submerge rind into liquid. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a container; cover and refrigerate in liquid at least 2 hours and up to 2 weeks.