I had a conversation with my Mom and when I mentioned that I had watermelons growing in my garden, she said she wanted some watermelon rind preserves. I remember them from my childhood when my grandmother made them, but I had no idea how to go about it. Also, I will never admit to my mom that I didn’t know how to do watermelon rind preserves because when she is 94, she will be all, “And besides that, you didn’t know how to preserve watermelon rinds.”
So I googled a recipe.
My brother and I have been preserving veggies out of my garden–so far we have “put up” (See quaint Southern phrases) tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans. As I mentioned on my About page, my garden isn’t big enough to be sustainable and for this episode, I used a store bought watermelon as my homemade watermelons are still too small to be considered.
100% Natural (and going completely off track)
What I like about preserving my own “homemade” veggies is that there are no preservatives, insecticides or growth hormones added. All 100% natural.
Back to the watermelons
To get the watermelon rinds ready for preserving, I cut out the good stuff… that sweet red middle and put it aside to snack on over the next few days. Then, I cut off the hard green skin, leaving the green part that never gets eaten.
FYI: Use a good sharp knife to cut off the tough outer skin because it tends to resist removal from the green insides.
According to the recipe I found at allrecipes.com
Step One: Peel off the green part of the watermelon rind, and slice into 2 inch pieces. Soak the rind in a solution of 1 gallon water and 1/2 cup salt overnight.
So I am soaking and will complete the task tomorrow. Check that off of my “To-Do” list.
Fast forward 24 hours…
*reading the recipe*
Step Two: Remove rind from the salt water, and place in a stockpot with clean water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the rind is tender. Drain.
Step Three: In a large pot, combine the sugar, 8 cups water, and sliced lemons. Tie the cinnamon and cloves into a cheesecloth bag, and place in the pot. Bring the syrup to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Add the rinds, and cook until transparent. Remove spice bag. Stir in red food coloring, if using. Ladle preserves into hot sterile jars, and process to seal.
After soaking the rinds overnight I was ready to begin my preserves. I drained the watermelon rinds and then put them in another pot. I covered them with water and put them on the stove to boil for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes they were still a little bit tough so I set the timer for another 15 minutes.
While the rinds were boiling I made the simple syrup with lot of sugar, water, cloves and cinnamon sticks and let that boil at the same time the watermelons were boiling. But, I had no lemons. Thinking quickly, I substituted lemon juice and went on to the next step.
Once the rinds were soft, (about 45 minutes boiling time) I put them in the simple syrup and boiled them together for about 15 minutes.
Next came the canning process… namely, I boiled the Mason jars, lids, funnel, and ladle in a large stock pot. Using my canning tongs, I removed the jars from the boiling water and placed the funnel in the first jar. Using the sterile ladle, I put the watermelon pieces in the jar and added enough syrup to cover them leaving only about a quarter inch of room to the rim of the jar. I put the lid on and screwed the ring down tightly.
Back in the boiling water in the stock. I boiled the filled jars for about 15 minutes and then removed them from the water with the tongs to cool. Waiting for the lid to pop when the jar sealed was the best part.
I only filled 4 pint sized jars, but that was from a single small watermelon. Also, the recipe called for the addition of red food coloring, but I didn’t add that. Those of you who are old enough to remember “Red Dye #5” will know why I didn’t put it in.
- I called my Mom: I have finished the watermelon rind preserves.
- Mom : Good. When are you bringing them to me?
- Me: Next time I drive to Florida, which is going to be a few months when the weather cools off down there.
- Mom: You are a daughter who hates her mother.
- Me: Okay. I am leaving right now. See you in about 12 hours.