Tuesday, July 12, 2016
The first batch of watermelon rind pickles and what to do if you don't have a water-bath canner
It's a 3-day process. That doesn't mean that I'm slaving away at it for 3 days, straight. The first day is the most labor-intensive, with slicing off the dark green of the rind, then cutting, plus simmering and making the brine. The next day, I strained off the brine, to reboil and pour over the rind pieces. And on the third day, I boiled the brine, one more time, poured over the rind as it's packed in jars, and finally, water-bath process.
I packed these jars tightly, so I'm guessing each jar will last through 4 or 5 family meals. I think I have about a 4 to 5-month supply of this kind of pickle. It's something we enjoy, but I also forget about it at times, when there's something else we're into in the moment.
I'm hoping to do 2 more batches like this pickle, for a total of 9 pints.
I store the rind pieces in a Rubbermaid container or plastic bags, in the fridge, for up to 4 days, until I have enough to do a large-ish batch, about 3 full pints.
You wanna see my make-shift water-bath canner? So a water bath just needs to cover the lids and jars, about an inch with the water. Any large stainless, or enamel stockpot works well for this. But you need something to hold the jars off of the bottom of the stockpot, while it's boiling. I don't have a rack.
I had a bunch of regular-size, (the smaller ones, not wide-mouth) used canning jar rings. I tied them together with cotton, kitchen string, to make a circle of rings, about the size of the bottom of one of my stockpots. When placed, top side up, inside the stockpot with water, the jars rest on top of the rings, about 3 or 4 fat jars or 6 slimmer jars, in this stockpot. I've used this exact circle of tied-together rings for about 20 years now. Doesn't look pretty, but it works, and can be replaced any year, with the next batch of worn rings. And it doesn't take up much space to store.
Just an idea to keep in mind, if you'd like to try canning some jam or jelly this summer, but don't have the "official" supplies, like the canning rack. I do have a jar lifter, which is a set of tongs with a wide opening to grasp a jar out of the hot water. Indispensable to me now. But before I had the jar-lifting tongs, I managed with some regular tongs in one hand, and a thick towel in the other to grab each jar as I pulled it out of the water. What's that saying? Necessity is the mother of invention. Homemakers have been figuring out how to do any number of things without every gadget out there, since the beginning of keeping the home fires burning.