Watermelon Rind Preserves…oops, I mean jam…

UPDATE: It turns out after a little research that what I like is actually watermelon rind JAM, not preserves. I didn’t want to preserve the shape of the fruit….I wanted it to be all smeary on my toast and only later realized that it’s actually jam.

These taste much better than they sound. Really. I tried them out of sheer curiosity, and because I really like the idea of using something that I would otherwise compost. And you know what? They aren’t bad. I mean, they aren’t my favorite preserves (ahem…jam), but I tried them in a sandwich with some goat cheese and they were pretty good.

So in case you are feeling adventurous too, here’s the recipe. Please note that I am not a canning expert and you should do your own research on how to safely can. Canning safety is NOT the point of this post.

There. That’s out of the way. Here’s the recipe. I started with the Ball Blue Book (a great resource for all things food preservation) and made some modifications.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 – 2 quarts watermelon rind

4 tbsp salt

water to cover

1 tbsp ginger

4 c sugar

1/4 c lemon juice

1 1/2  quarts water

1 medium very thinly sliced and seeded lemon

Method:

Trim green peel and flesh from the white watermelon rind. Cut rind into approximately 1 inch pieces. Dissolve the salt in 1 quart of water and pour it over the rind, then add more water as needed to cover. Mine looked like this:

Let it stand for 5-6 hours. If you forget about it, say, overnight…that would be fine too.  😉

Drain. Rinse. Drain again. Cover with cold water and let stand 30 minutes. Drain. Sprinkle ginger over rind (if you forget about this part, you can also just add some ginger to the cooking preserves later). Cover with water. Cook until tender. Drain.

Combine sugar, lemon juice and 1 1/2 quarts water in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil. Add rind (UPDATE: you can put the rind in the food processor after this initial cooking instead of waiting until the end…it’s less sticky that way). Boil gently until rind is transparent (this takes a long time-make this on a day when you have the whole afternoon free). Add lemon slices. At this point, you can use an immersion blender to make the texture more spreadable if you want to. I did. Here is what it looked like before:

I didn’t want to spread that on my bagel; thus the immersion blender (I highly recommend this particular kitchen gadget–like love, it covers a multitude of sins). I suppose you could also just chop the rind and lemon up very small using a knife or a food processor before you added them to the syrup.

But I digress.

As I was saying: add lemon slices, use the immersion blender if you want to. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust 2-piece caps. Process 20 minutes in a boiling water canner. Give to people who invite you to dinner parties if you think they’d care about it. Or give as holiday gifts. Or eat it yourself and enjoy the fact that you prevented something from being wasted. 🙂

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