As you know, watermelon rind is poisonous.
I'm just kidding but a surprising number of people believe that it is true. It follows the theory that bitter tastes are a marker for things that can hurt you such as bitter almonds and poison ivy, but it is just a rumor and watermelon rind has a surprising amount of uses. It can be preserved and eaten as pieces, candied, pickled, and even be turned into jelly or preserves.
This recipe was cooked for the Historical Food Fortnightly. A yearly challenge that encourages bloggers to cook a historical food every two weeks as part of the challenge "Waste not, Want not" and what gets wasted more than watermelon rinds?
The Challenge: Waste Not, Want Not (July 1 - July 14) Good housekeeping in any historic era included making the most of your food items. Pick a recipe that involves avoiding waste (maybe reusing leftovers, or utilizing things commonly thrown out) and show us how historically-green you can be!
The Date/Year and Region: 1850s-60s, United States
- Watermelon Rind, cut into pieces or shapes
- Alum or Salt
- Lemon Peel
- Sugar, pound for pound to the rinds
- Cabbage Leaves for coloring
How Did You Make It:
Godey's Lady's Book in 1858 suggested soaking the pieces for 3 days in salt water, 3 days in alum water and 3 days in plain water (changing the water each day) to remove any alum flavor before preserving the rinds.
Time to Complete: Days to soak it but actual prepare time 30 mins to 1 hour.
Total Cost: $3.00 for the watermelon.
How Successful Was It?: I admit I was afraid to taste it. Something about the rind just sounds unappealing. But I forced myself too and it was delicious. If you didn't tell someone this was the rind of a watermelon, they'd think it was crisp, flavored, honeydew. The pieces aren't quite so toxic looking when light isn't shining through them. These would be a nice treat if made in different colors and flavors. The rind itself has a very neutral flavor good for absorbing other flavors.
How Accurate Is It?: I dyed with spinach instead of cabbage leaves. The first receipt I found said to layer in ivy leaves, but I did not feel confident in the safety of it.