I became familiar with watermelon rind pickles in my travels to the US South. These pickles were common among the African American communities for centuries. A recipe for these pickles was first seen in 1881 in What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking. But the history of this dish is much deeper and bleaker, it was a way for the slaves to survive and use any scrap of food to do so. The history of watermelon pickles talks today about food waste and the importance of nutrition in every part of an edible plant.
This however is a Persian recipe, another culture where preserving is an art form that developed around the hard climate, rocky terrain and lack of water. The Persians have a proclivity to pickle and are considered by some to be among the best pickle masters in the world.
these pickles are delicious, I had to really strive to keep my hands out of the pickle jar, so to speak. they are soft, but yet have a bite, they are sweet and scented with spices. These pickles are addictive and can be used on everything, as a simple condiment for any meal, on a cheese platter, and on burgers and other sandwiches. These are pickles that you will enjoy with anything, and if you are like me, will start to make dishes as an excuse to bring the jar to the table.
I have not cooked enough from this book, but every time I cook from it I love the flavours and dishes. A book filled with wonderful recipes from Lebanon is a treat to have and cook from. Easy-to-follow recipes make me want to pick up this cookbook and make super delicious dinners every night. I highly recommend this cookbook for authentic flavours from the region.
For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.
1 2 lb watermelon
3 tablespoons salt
2 cups sugar
6+3 cups water
1 cup white or apple cider vinegar
4 whole cloves
6 black peppercorns
1 1/2-inch cinnamon stick
A pinch salt
Peel the rind of the watermelon removing the shiny green layer. Cut the watermelon and remove the peel, removing all red flesh. Use about 2 cups of tightly packed rinds for the recipe. Use the flesh for another purpose, keeping the peel. Cut the peel into thin batons, about 2 inches long and 0.2 inches thick.
Place the batons in a bowl and fill it with 8 cups of water and salt. Stir to dissolve the salt and allow it to sit overnight.
Drain the rinds, they should have turned a milky translucent in colour. Add 3 cups water and the sugar, cloves, pepper, cinnamon and salt. Mix well till the sugar dissolves completely. Sit in the fridge overnight.
Remove from the fridge and add to a pan. bring the liquids up to a boil and simmer gently for 45 minutes till the watermelon rinds have turned very translucent and the liquids have turned to a thick syrup. If the watermelon rinds are not completely cooked, add 1/2 cup water and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. They can be eaten immediately and if stored in the fridge should be brought up to room temperature before serving. The rinds can be stored for up to a month in the fridge.