Watermelon Rind Pickles

Did you know you can eat watermelon rind? As typical with a lot of Southern recipes, watermelon rind recipes were born out of the necessity to use every bit of food, especially by the slaves on old plantations. The rind can be used in everything from pickles to pie. I tried a watermelon rind pie a few years ago but was unimpressed. But watermelon rind pickles made sense to me.

Basically, after you've finished enjoying the lovely red flesh, you skin the rind and cook in liquid until it is nice and tender. Where pie failed, pickles succeed. These come out tender and, with the jalapeno, a little spicy as well.

If you end up with excess pickling liquid, like I did, then here are a few other uses for it (taken from SeriousEats.com):

  • Reuse the brine to make more pickles out of different fruits and veggies. Carrots, mushrooms, beets, radishes, green beans (aka dilly beans), the list goes on. Optional: spice it up with hot peppers.
  • Deviled eggs.
  • Mix into potato salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, or macaroni salad to add moisture and a flavor boost.
  • Sauces and dressings. Replace some of the vinegar in a salad dressing, dress slaw with it, and tartar sauce could always use some.
  • Brine chicken or pork with it. Drizzle it on grilled fish. Marinate beef with it. Pickle juice tenderizes meat like crazy. But if you're using pickles that contain yellow dye, mix the juice with 50-50 water, otherwise it yellows the meat.
  • Boil whole potatoes in it. Not only does it season them nicely but the acid in the juice keeps the 'tato surfaces relatively intact over a longer simmer, while the insides get creamy.
  • Steam vegetables in it.
  • Pickle pops! Freeze the juice in ice cube trays (which can go into a Bloody Mary) or popsicle molds.
  • Snow cones? OK maybe this is pushing it, but topping snow cones with pickle juice is a thing in Texas.
  • Marinate soft white cheese in it.
  • Pickle soup. More on that here.
  • Pickle bread. More on that here.
  • Drink it straight, on the rocks. Sipping a cold PJ after a long run, or just on a hot day, or when hungover is an effective way to replace lost electrolytes and sodium. 
  • Throw it into a Bloody Mary.
  • Take a shot of pickle juice after a shot of whiskey. Picklebacks! Nothing de-whiskies the mouth like that salty, briny green juice.
  • Sticking with the drinking theme, Pickletinis. Pickle juice plus vodka or gin.

Jalapeno Pickled Watermelon Rind

2 cups watermelon rind, peeled and cubed
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/2 cup  apple cider vinegar
1 large jalapeno, minced
In a saucepan add sugar, water, vinegar, and jalapeno. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the watermelon rind to the pan and cook over medium to low heat for half an hour, or until the rind turns completely transparent. Let cool completely. Store pickled rind in juice and store in the refrigerator.  Note: You can also can the pickles immediately after removing from heat.  

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