Almost a year ago, the News & Observer in Raleigh published an essay I wrote about my grandmother's watermelon rind pickles on the front of its Sunday Journal section.
I thought I'd share the essay and the recipe here with you. If you've never eaten watermelon rind pickles before, you should -- and not just because they're delicious. Here's one food that really pays tribute to the notion of frugality. Once you've finished eating the juicy, ripe melon, you can save the rind and make pickles. Waste not, want not.
I will caution that you should look for a watermelon with a thick rind, which will make your prep work so much simpler and safer. Many watermelons today are cultivated to have thinner rinds -- hence more melon -- but if you're planning to make pickles, you want to pick one with a thick rind.
The Department of Horticulture Science at N.C. State University has some recommendations for the best types of watermelons for making pickles.
I haven't made any watermelon rind pickles this year, but I need to as I don't have very many jars left. Now more than ever, I need to keep this family traditional alive. My grandmother, Nell Mills, who was thrilled last year when the article about her appeared in her local newspaper, died in February. What I wouldn't give to have her back to help me with one more batch.