This recipe does not come from a vintage cookbook. However, the cookbook explores a historic theme – the travels of Lewis and Clark. The Lewis & Clark Cookbook: Historic Recipes from the Corps of Discovery & Jefferson’s America was written by Leslie Mansfield and published in 2002 by Celestial Arts. It is a fascinating look at food that would have been common during that time, with updated recipes for the modern kitchen and the modern palate.
“Another gift from the settlers from the Indians, watermelons were quickly adapted as sweet pickles to enjoy year round. If you have a selection of small cookie cutters, use them to create fanciful shapes after peeling the tough green outer skin off the watermelon rind. A small block of wood can then be used to press the cutter through the rind. These pickles are firm and have a wonderful sweet/sour tangy flavor.” – Leslie Mansfield, Lewis & Clark Cookbook
2 quarts water
1/3 cup noniodized salt
4 cups sugar
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 lemon, sliced
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole cloves
Cut the rind of the watermelon into manageable pieces. Cut off all of the outer green skin and inner pink flesh. Cut the rind into 1-inch square pieces. You should have about 10 cups of prepared rind. In a large bowl, stir together the water ans salt. Add the rind, cover the bowl, and let stand overnight. Drain and rinse the wine. In a large pot, combine the drained rind with enough fresh water to cover. Simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until tender.
In a large pot, combine the sugar and vinegar. Tie the lemon slices, cinnamon sticks, allspice, and cloves in a piece of cheesecloth and add to the pot. Add the watermelon rind and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the rind is transparent. With the slotted spoon, divide the rind between 3 sterilized pint jars. Fill the jars with the syrup, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars and adjust the lids. Process the jars in a boiling ice bath for 10 minutes.
Makes 3 pints
August 2, 1804…”among those Indians 6 were Chiefs (not the principal Chiefs) Capt. Lewis and myself met those Indians and informed them we were glad to see them, and would speak to them tomorrow, sent them some roasted meat, Pork flour and meal, in return they sent us Water millions.” – Clark