The last chapter "Pairings" features recipes to make with the fruits you've jammed, jellied, pickled & canned.
I chose to try the pickled watermelon rind with hibiscus & spices for a couple reasons: (1) I've never eaten pickled watermelon rind, and (2) I had half of a watermelon sitting in my fridge.
The recipe calls for hibiscus flowers, which I assume were meant to be the kind of dried flowers you find in hibiscus teas. I used wild hibiscus flowers in syrup, but the final product wasn't as pinkly-tinted as I imagine you'd get if you used hibiscus tea.
Still, these pickles were quite good...sweet, slightly tart, with a firm texture. I ate them as McCarthy suggests with buttery, oozing Brillat-Savarin cheese on a hot baguette.
She also recommends pairing these with barbecued baby back ribs, adding them to a prosciutto/melon/argula salad, and sandwiching them in a grilled cheese.
Pickled Watermelon Rind with Hibiscus
makes six 8-ounce jars
1 small watermelon (about 6-8 pounds)
8 1/2 cups water, divided
2 tablespoons coarse Kosher salt
4 cups sugar (2 pounds)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons hibiscus flowers *
12 whole cloves
12 pink peppercorns
peel of 1 lemon, sliced into 6 pieces
- Cut the watermelon pulp from the rind, leaving a thin layer of pink on the rind. Cut the green outer skin from the rind and discard. Cut the white rind into 1 x 1/2-inch pieces.
- Bring 8 cups of water and the salt to a boil over medium-high heat and add the watermelon rind. Boil for 15 minutes, or until the rind softens and becomes slightly translucent. Drain the water and reserve the rind.
- In a 6- to 8-quart nonreactive pot, combine the sugar, vinegar, remaining 1/2 cup of water, cinnamon stick, and hibiscus flowers. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and boil gently for 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard.
- Place 2 whole cloves, 2 whole pink peppercorns, and 1 lemon peel slice into clean, sterilized jars. Gently place the watermelon rink pieces tightly into each jar, leaving a generous 1/2-inch space at the top.
- Ladle hot syrup into each jar to cover the rind, still leaving a 1/2-inch of space at the top of each jar. Remove any air bubbles if necessary.
- Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 12 minutes. **
* I used 2 whole hibiscus flowers & 2 tablespoons their syrup in the pickling liquid. I then added the flowers to the jar.
** I didn't process the jars since I didn't intend to store these very long. Instead, I let them hot seal then put them into the refrigerator when they cooled.
McCarthy points out that you can change the flavor of this recipe by adding 1 or 2 of the following:
3 fresh bay leaves, 2 teaspoons ground cloves, 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, or 2 tablespoons fresh basil.