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Spiced Watermelon Rind Pickles

From Athens Locally Grown

<p>When you&#8217;re enjoying those wonderful summer watermelons, save the rinds. They make a delicious sweet pickle! Scrape out all pink and soft flesh from the rind. Then peel off the outer green skin. Cut the remaining white flesh into 1-inch squares or diamonds. Then measure how much you have. The recipe here makes about 7-8 pint jars full (one water-bath canner load). If you have more or less than 1 gallon of prepared rinds, adjust the other ingredients accordingly.</p>
Source: An old family recipe (Entered by Janice Matthews)
Serves: 7-8 pint jars full

4 quarts prepared watermelon rind pieces
3 T. pickling lime OR 1 cup kosher salt
2 quarts cold water (for brining step)
2 T. whole cloves
3 sticks whole cinnamon
1 thumb-sized piece ginger root (or 2 tsp. chopped preserved ginger)
1 whole lemon, thinly sliced
8 cups sugar
1 quart white vinegar
1 quart water

Step by Step Instructions
  1. Dissolve lime or salt in the 2 quarts of water, and pour over the rind. (If needed, add more water to cover rind.) Stir well. Let stand 2 hours if lime is used or 6 hours if salt is used. (This brining step firms up the flesh; lime makes a crisper pickle than salt does.)
  2. Drain and rinse well with fresh water. Then cover rind with new cold water in a pan, bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes. Pieces should be tender, yet slightly crisp at the center when pierced with a skewer. Do not overcook. Drain and place in a large bowl while you make the pickle syrup.
  3. Place the cloves, cinnamon, and ginger onto a piece of cheesecloth and tie the cloth into a loose bag. Put the bag into large pan with lemon, sugar, vinegar and water. Heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Then simmer this syrup for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the watermelon rind and continue to simmer just until pieces become clear and translucent. (Add a bit more boiling water if syrup becomes too thick before rind is clear.)
  5. Remove spice bag. Pack the pickles, boiling hot, into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/8 inch head space. Adjust caps. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. (Note: for a smaller batch, I don't bother canning them, but just let the pickles cool, then put them into a covered jar and store them in the refrigerator.)