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Some people might be eager to jump feet first into fall, and while we are easily convinced when we start seeing chic Halloween decor in stores, we always find ourselves swinging back into full summer mode when we visit the early September farmer’s markets. Luscious ripe tomatoes, perfect eggplants, bright peppers in all shapes and sizes, and heavy, fragrant melons are all at their peak right now. If you’re like us, cramming your fridge with as much late-summer produce as possible before the cool weather actually arrives, then we have a feeling you’ll love Alex Guarnaschelli’s easy pickled watermelon rind recipe.
After all, is there a better way to honor the change of the seasons than to preserve a summer ingredient so you can enjoy it into the cooler months? What we really like about Guarnaschelli’s recipe is that it can be used to pickle both the watermelon rinds and the actual watermelon.
First, you’ll want to make your brine. Guarnaschelli creates a tangy, sweet, and salty pickling liquid from water, red wine vinegar, sugar, and salt, along with a simple seasoning blend of black peppercorns and coriander seeds. If you’re feeling creative, you could also throw in bay leaf, yellow mustard seeds, allspice berries, or even star anise. Or, you can just use a pre-made pickling spice blend.
To pickle the watermelon rinds, you should first peel off all of the green skin, with a sharp vegetable peeler or a knife. You should be left with pale white and pink pieces of rind that are skin-free. If you prefer more tender pickles, then you can also par-boil the rind for about 5 minutes, or until it’s slightly softer.
For the watermelon, cut it into large chunks or “fingers.” The rind and flesh should be put into separate containers to pickle, since their textures are different. The pickled watermelon won’t last as long in the fridge as the rind pickles.
Once the rind and watermelon are prepared and put into their own containers, you can pour the warm brine on top (it should be briefly simmered so the flavors can mingle before you add it to the fruit and rind). Let the watermelon and rind pickle in the fridge for at least 24 hours before tasting.
The result is a cool, sweet, tangy treat, utterly refreshing and a welcome taste of late summer when the nights start getting chilly in the fall. You can eat the pickled watermelon and watermelon rind as-is, or add them to charcuterie boards and salads. Watermelon pickle with feta and fresh herbs is always a hit. You could even chop up the pickled rind and watermelon to make a relish for hot dogs and sausages.
However you use it, you’ll be glad you decided to harness the flavor of summer with these watermelon pickles.
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