Cherry vinegar & Thai pickled cherries

As I entered supermarket last Saturday, I was greeted by a stack of dark red cherries just begging to come home with me. I had just seen pickled cherries (something I’ve never tried before) used on the five and spice blog (which rocks), and was really intrigued by the idea. Growing up, we sometimes had cherries preserved in brandy or jam – something I was never tempted to make myself (we don’t eat a lot of sweets) – but cherries in vinegar, with maybe a little bit of hot spice? That sounded like the perfect way to enjoy the fruit throughout the year, perhaps with some cheeses or curry.

Bonnie Lee (she’s the brains of the operation) suggested that we add a little Thai twist to the pickle. Brilliant. So, that’s the way we decided to go. The results are in the picture below.

We ended up with about ½ cup of extra cherry vinegar, which is bright red, has a nice cherry finish, is slightly sweet, and will be great in dressings and marinades. We haven’t tasted the pickles yet, as we’re waiting for all those great flavours to blend. I’m traveling for work again – but they should be ready to crack open when I get back to the US in mid-August. I’ll let you know how they came out then.

Cherry vinegar & Thai pickled cherries

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts fresh cherries
  • 1 lime
  • 2 sticks dried lemon grass
  • 4 pieces dried Thai ginger (galangal)
  • 10 dried bird’s eye chilis
  • 2 cups distilled vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar

You will also need a mason jar that holds 4 cups.

Directions

  • Wash and pit the cherries, discarding any that are not firm.
  • Demonstrate that you’re smarter than me by not wiping your cherry-juice-covered hands on your shirt.
  • Sterilize the mason jar.
  • Zest the lime, and place the zest in the mason jar.
  • Toss the lemon grass, ginger, and bird’s eye chilis in the mason jar.
  • Pour the distilled and rice vinegars in a deep skillet, and squeeze in the juice of your lime. Add in the sugar, and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • When the vinegar solution is warm, add in the cherries and poach them in vinegar for about 3 or 4 minutes.
  • Remove the cherries from the vinegar with a slotted spoon, and put them in the mason jar.
  • Strain the bright red vinegar through a wire mesh.
  • Pour enough strained vinegar into the mason jar to cover the cherries.
  • Put the remaining vinegar in a clean bottle.
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Watermelon rind is food too

Watermelon rind has it tough. It lives next to sweet, pink, refreshing fruit that can be eaten as is, or easily become the base of colorful drinks, salsas, granitas and soups. How many of us even acknowledge rind as food? How many of us stop eating when we reach the unsexy, white, flavorless stuff? How many rinds end their lives needlessly in landfill?

Too many to contemplate.

But watermelon rind is food too, and there’s no reason to throw it away, or even compost anything but the hard, dark green skin (less than a millimeter thick). Although the rind is not as flavorful as the rest of the fruit, it is slightly sweet and has a firm, crisp texture that holds up well to cooking. It can be incorporated into the aforementioned drinks, salsas, granitas and soups — but also does well on it’s own in both sweet and savory concoctions.

Watermelon rind chutney

Take that, sexy, pink, attention-grabbing watermelon flesh

I’ve been in the mood for Indian food lately, so when I found myself with 10 cups of watermelon rind earlier this week (harvested from a 7 pound watermelon), I decided to use it to make chutney. The recipe is below, and the result is a spicy, sweet, sour, aromatic condiment that makes a perfect accompaniment to Indian food, meat dishes or strong cheeses.

Watermelon Rind Chutney

Ingredients

Cubed watermelon rind

Cubed watermelon rind

  • 10 cups watermelon rind, diced in ¾ inch cubes with dark green skin removed
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 2 serrano peppers with seeds, minced
  • ½ cup ginger, skinned and coarsely chopped
  • 1½ Tbsp garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 
½ tsp cardamom
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • ¼ tsp powdered cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1½ cups sugar

Directions

  • Place watermelon rind, raisins, serrano peppers, ginger, garlic, red pepper, cinnamon powder, cardamom, ginger powder, powdered cloves, salt and half of the vinegar in a large pot.
  • Add enough water to just cover the fruit, and give everything a good stir.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to low.
  • Cook on low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the rinds take on a translucent quality.
  • Add in the rest of the vinegar, the lime juice and the sugar, and stir until sugar dissolves.
  • Bring the liquid to a gentle boil, and, stirring frequently, continue to boil until the liquid has the consistency of jam.
  • Put the chutney in a sterilized jar.

This chutney will stay fresh for several months in the refrigerator.

Fun facts
Reduction in food waste per batch of chutney 10 cups
… and if every household in the US makes 1 batch Over 9.6 million cubic feet
Volume of the Washington Monument About 1 million cubic feet