Watermelon season is a hard time for New Yorkers. It’s late summer, it’s hotter than ever, and the window air conditioners are barely working. It all makes that fat green globe nestled among its friends at the grocery store look like the best idea, ever.
But after carrying the watermelon one block, two blocks, three blocks, it becomes really hard to keep yourself from smashing it on the sidewalk and eating the pieces off the ground. If you’re a rational human being, however, you’ll probably make it home with the melon intact, at which point you’ll realize you can’t even eat half of the thing thanks to the bulky, heavy, inedible rind.
Instead of filling up your trash can with awkward wedges of rind, chop that sucker up and turn it into pickles. Like most delicious things, it’s a frustrating, tedious experience that results in a tremendous volume of pickles that you won’t be able to eat, but at least you’ll feel like you bested the watermelon.
Cut the red flesh out of the watermelon with your teeth (or, you know, a knife) so that only the firm white perimeter flesh remains. Now carve the hard, brittle green rind off the back side. There are a few things you should know about this step:
1. Don’t be a hero. Working with small rectangles of rind at a time may just save your fingers.
2. Don’t be a perfectionist. Do your best to peel the rind off as thinly as possible, but don’t hate yourself if it ends up with a quarter inch of white.
3. Don’t use a dull knife. Duh. But seriously: These suckers are slippery, so heads up.
Once you have a bunch of naked white strips of rind, cut them into cubes. Now dissolve ¾ cup of sugar in 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vinegar (rice wine, apple cider, whatever) by bringing the mixture to a boil on the stove. As soon as the sugar dissolves, throw the rind cubes in the mix and pull it off the heat.
Let the rind swim around in the brine until the whole thing comes to room temperature, and then throw it in the fridge. As time goes on, the cubes will go from opaque and tasty to translucent and delicious.
Once you’re happy with the state of pickling, start throwing these guys in with anything that needs a tang. Enact the ultimate revenge by serving the pickled rinds in a salad with their own guts (ripe, red watermelon flesh) and a few cherry tomatoes. Consider your watermelon full conquered.