Sunday, September 07, 2008

Rinding My Way Home

Since My Dear Papa had to spend the weekend elsewhere, I decided to move in temporarily with the Chef Mother, both to keep her company and to keep her busy and out of trouble.

That's not an easy task, but I knew just how to do it: I moved my canning operations to her kitchen and put her to work.

On Friday evening, she helped chop vegetables so that I could use up some tomatoes and tomatillos in a four-pint batch of salsa. But I appreciated even more her help in getting a batch of watermelon pickles started.

While I worked on a batch of breaded eggplant to freeze, the Chef Mother cut up a small watermelon from my Victory Garden, carefully slicing the rind away from the flesh but leaving a thin strip of pink which she noted would look pretty in the jars.

Once she had done that, she peeled the tough dark skin from the outside of the rind, and I cubed the tender inside rind, placing all the pieces in a bowl and adding a simple brine to soften them overnight.

On Saturday, I made up the spiced vinegar brine and simmered it before adding the drained and rinsed rind. Then I moved the pot to the back burner and let it continue to steep for another 24 hours so that the rind could fully absorb all the delicious flavors.

By this morning, I was ready to finish the batch, adding more sugar and vinegar and simmering it all before putting up one lonely pint of syrupy sweet and tangy watermelon pickles.

It seems like a lot of work for one jar, and you're right, it was. It would have been better had I had a couple of melons to use, but the others in the garden aren't quite ripe yet, so I may have to make another batch in coming weeks. After all, since I discovered last year that I really, really like these pickles, I'd better have some more on hand for winter!

And wouldn't it be nice if I could share some with the Chef Mother, to thank her for all her help?

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