That’s using your ‘melon’

Published 4:57 pm Thursday, June 24, 2010

OK, call me crazy, call me weird or call me any name in the book, but I don’t like watermelon.

I don’t hate it really; it’s just not on my favorites list. But, I’m no dummy either. I know there are plenty of people out there that eat this big, green gourd filled with sweet, juicy, red flesh. I probably have some people’s mouths watering at this point.

I didn’t always feel this way. When I was a child, like most people in the south, we ate watermelon almost every day during the summer. When we would make our trek the creek we almost always put a melon in the edge of the water so that the water could run over it and have it cool by the time we finished swimming. And, of course, we had watermelon rind fights. If you never had those fights, don’t ask.

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At any rate, for those people out there who buy a big watermelon and only two people in the house eat any of it; you may want to figure out how to put the leftovers to use without filling the fridge with a big hunk of melon.

I’ve come up with a few recipes and believe it or not, I think I may actually try the salsa recipe. I’ll let you know if my opinion of watermelon changes.

Watermelon Salsa

2 cups finely chopped seeded watermelon (do not puree)

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained well

1 cup sweet onion, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco, or to taste

Stir the watermelon, pineapple, and onion together with the cilantro, orange juice, and hot sauce in a bowl. Cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

If by some chance your crew eats all the watermelon, you’ll probably wonder what to do with the rinds. My dad used to insist on making these preserves every summer and my mother obliged. They said it was great on toast or with biscuits to give you a little taste of summer all winter long.

Watermelon Rind Preserves

4 pounds chopped watermelon rind

1 gallon water

1/2 cup salt

9 cups white sugar

8 cups water

4 teaspoons crushed cinnamon stick

4 teaspoons ground cloves

4 lemons – rinsed, sliced and seeded

1 dash red food coloring (optional)

Peel off the green part of the watermelon rind, and slice into 2 inch pieces. Soak the rind in a solution of 1 gallon water and 1/2 cup salt overnight. Remove rind from the salt water, and place in a stockpot with clean water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the rind is tender. Drain. In a large pot, combine the sugar, 8 cups water, and sliced lemons. Tie the cinnamon and cloves into a cheesecloth bag, and place in the pot. Bring the syrup to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Add the rinds, and cook until transparent. Remove spice bag. Stir in red food coloring, if using. Ladle preserves into hot sterile jars, and process to seal.

Enjoy your watermelon and have a great summer!