This is the post where I demonstrate even more ignorance on the topic of food.
Considering the course of my life, I can say with an exact amount of certainty just how many times I’ve eaten pickled watermelon rind: One. That was yesterday.
Before that, pickled watermelon rinds weren’t on my radar at all. Oh, I knew they existed somewhere. But these were places where I didn’t visit on any occasions. These were the places where Stuckey’s Salted Pecan Rolls were the height of decadence.
Being from the Northern part of the United States, Watermelon rinds were something to be thrown away, not pickled and then sold at a profit. Pickling was left to cucumbers and hot peppers; anything else was weird and exotic.
Because the watermelon rinds have never been on my radar, I had never given them much thought. I don’t know the history of them, nor how they fit into any cultural zeitgeist. They probably come from the idea of using any and all components of food, and stored for later consumption when food runs scarce. But this is likely the historical basis for all pickled foods. For all I know, pickled watermelon rinds may have been discovered by accident, when an Egyptian Melon vendor careened his cart into a vinegar stand, and they waited several days before anyone decided to clean it up. Perhaps even “Hey, you got vinegar on my watermelon rind” was exclaimed.
Hell if I know.
What I do know is that watermelon rind is mighty tasty. It’s flavor is mostly sugar of some sort (in fact, the ingredient list has corn syrup as the #2 ingredient, and sugar as #3, so sweetness is very much present. With the vinegar, the end result is something akin to a sweet gherkin. In other words, whatever subtle flavor of the rind has been washed out by the pickling solution.
Additionally, if I use history as my evidence, home made versions of pickled watermelon rind will likely have more interesting tastes than the mass marketed variety. Different spices are likely to be used that compliment rather than overwhelm.
Of course, all of this is a guess, as I am nothing but a ignorant northerner.
But I have come to appreciate Salted Pecan Rolls. So there is hope for me yet.