Home cooking: Sweet watermelon rind pickle

September 18, 2012

Julia Brugh of Hagerstown has can

ned with her mother and sister for many years. She said she and her sisters grew up watching their mother can produce from the gardens their dad planted at their homes in West Virginia and, later, in Maryland.

Brugh's mother, Peggy Stinson, started canning in 1969 with the produce from her husband's first garden in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. Stinson continued to can annually, feeding a family of nine children.

Brugh's sister, Roxanne Brewer, visits during the peach harvest in Washington County. Brewer grew up in Harpers Ferry in the 1960s and now lives with her family in Kennesaw, Ga.
— Chris Copley, Lifestyle assistant editor

Sweet watermelon rind pickle

7 pounds watermelon rind

2 quarts cold water

6 inches stick cinnamon

10 cups sugar

1 quart white vinegar

12 whole cloves

Select thick rind from firm melon. Pare away green skin and pink flesh. Cut rind into cubes. Pour water over rind and let stand in refrigerator overnight.

Next morning, boil rind for 10 minutes in the water in which it was soaked. Drain and discard water.

Tie the cinnamon and cloves in a cheesecloth bag. Combine sugar, vinegar and spices in a separate pot, and boil to form a thick syrup.

Drop rind into syrup and cook until the rind is clear. If the syrup is not thick when the rind is clear, remove the rind and continue to boil the syrup until it has thickened.

Remove spice bag, let syrup cool and pack rind into hot jars as directed below.

Canning process:

Examine canning jars for nicks, cracks, uneven rims or sharp edges that may prevent sealing or cause breakage. Examine canning lids to ensure they are free of dents and sealing compound is even. For safety, use a new lid each time you process. Rings may be reused.

Wash jars, rings and lids in hot soapy water, and rinse well. Heat jars and lids in a saucepot of simmering, 180-degree water. Do not boil lids. Allow jars and lids to remain in hot water until ready for use.

Fill boiling-water canner half full with hot water. Elevate rack in canner. Put canner lid in place. Heat water just to a simmer. Keep water hot until used for processing.

Pack watermelon rind into hot, sterile jars, one jar at a time. Wipe rim and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Remove lid from hot water using a lid wand. Place lid on jar, centering sealing compound on rim. Screw band down evenly and firmly, just until resistance is met — fingertip tight.

As each jar is filled, set it into the elevated rack in the canner. After all jars are filled and placed onto the rack, lower rack into canner. Water level must cover the two-piece caps on the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water if necessary.

Put lid on canner. Bring water to boil. Process rinds for 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Start processing time after water comes to a rolling boil.

When processing time is complete, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let canner cool 5 minutes before removing jars. Remove jars from canner and set them upright, 1 to 2 inches apart, on a dry towel to cool. Do not retighten bands. Let jars cool 12 to 24 hours.

After jars have cooled, check the lids for a seal by pressing on the center of each lid. If the center is pulled down and does not flex, remove the band and gently try to lift the lid off with your fingertips. If the lid does not flex and you cannot lift it off, the lid has a good vacuum seal. Wipe lid and jar surface with a clean, damp cloth to remove food particles or residue.

Label jars and store in a cool, dry, dark place.

Yield: 6 to 7 pints or 12 to 14 half pints

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