WATERMELON PICKLES

By: Chef John 

Between the dark green skin of a watermelon and its pinky flesh lies an often discarded, pale green rind that’s full of possibilities. Seasoned by aromatic spices in a quick boil, these pickles can be served the same way as other pickles, but they are especially fine with pork recipes.

NOTE: To sterilize the jars, bottles, and lids for preserves, place them on a rack in a large canning pot, fill with water to the tops of the jars and bring the water to a boil for 5 minutes. Then, use tongs to carefully remove the jars and bottles. Drain them upside down on a clean kitchen towel until ready to fill.

1 whole medium watermelon
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard seed
2 star anise
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut the watermelon into manageable pieces. With a vegetable peeler, peel away the outer skin, trim away the pink flesh and save for granita or sorbet, and cube the white rind into 1-inch pieces.

Put 2 cups water, the sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, star anise, fennel seed, peppercorns, and salt into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the watermelon rinds and gently boil until the rinds become tender, about 10 minutes, then remove the saucepan from heat.

Let the watermelon rinds and syrup cool to room temperature in the pot. Pack them into a sterilized jar or two, and refrigerate for up to 1 month.