Nothing says summer like cold, juicy watermelon, especially during the month of July - National Watermelon Month. Lucky for me I had a beautiful, heavy for it's weight specimen sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be carved down to a couple of cold, juicy recipes for the celebration. (Whew, I do hate missing any of the fresh produce holidays, don't you?)
Did you know watermelon is native to North Africa? So am I! Well, via my mother who was born/raised in Morocco and was whisked away to Chicago by a handsome American sailor, aka my father.
Another interesting fact is that watermelon is the lycopene (anti-oxidant) leader of the fresh produce world, with lots of vitamin A, B6, C, plus bonus potassium. Since watermelon is 92% water and we can't survive without water, and we're supposed to drink lots of water, why not get some of that water in you with the sweet flavor only watermelon can bring?
Here's a tidbit that brings us to today's recipes: The very 1st cookbook published in the U.S., in 1796 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles. Since I've always wanted to try making these, partly because I hate to waste anything, I found out the way to make modern, quick, refrigerator pickled watermelon rinds and I'm happy to share the recipe below.
Not to forget that cold, juicy watermelon flesh, one of my favorite summer refreshers is to put chunks of fresh melon, some grated ginger, and a few fresh mint leaves in a blender and pulse to liquefy. Pour this into a pretty glass about 3/4 full, then add some sparkling water and a fresh mint garnish. A votre sante!
Pickled Watermelon Rind
watermelon rind, peeled and cut into cubes
(6 cups total)
4 cups water
3 Tbsp. sea salt
splash of rose water (optional)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2 star anise
2 one-inch pieces of cinnamon stick
(Leave a bit of the flesh when peeling the watermelon rind)
Place the peeled and cubed rind in a bowl and add the 4 cups of water. Pour in a splash of rose water plus the salt and stir. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
In a stockpot combine the rinsed rind with the sugar, vinegar, water, star anise and cinnamon and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Pour into jar(s), seal, and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before serving. I'm planning on serving these with little chunks of fresh, white cheese and olives this weekend.
What will you do with your pickled watermelon rinds?
More great watermelon info here: http://www.watermelon.org/