So, I picked my first watermelon last week. For ages, it had been pretty big, it made a hollow sound when tapped and it had the light yellow mark on its belly — all the marks of a ripe watermelon — but I was waiting for the damn thing’s skin to lighten. And then I realised that the variety I’d planted had dark skin so I went and picked the fucker.
It was delicious, but it had heaps of seeds. Which I figured was because I’d left it so long.
Hoping to avoid the same problem, I picked the next watermelon that looked ready, and which had the same colouring, but just wasn’t as big and old.
So here’s me going “bugger” (especially since I’d planned to make daiquiris with that one… and doubly so after I saw that it was still full of bloody seeds, ripe or not) when I remembered a recipe for a type of what I guess you’d call a pickle, though it’s more like a glacé-ing process, in the back of my Sicilian cook book, called zuccata.
The recipe specified under-ripe melon or overripe zucchini (in Sicily, they use cucuzza, which is a bland kind of squash or gourd). Check.
I peeled and gutted the damn thing, and chopped up the rind. Pips and juices went everywhere and I’m supposed to be resting my leg, but dammit, I was making the damn preserve.
And chopped it into half-inch pieces. It turned out I had over a kilo of the stuff.
It had to be sprinkled with salt, to remove some of the moisture, then rinsed after a few hours and soaked in fresh water for 12 hours. I was supposed to change the water every 3-4 hours but since I was going to soak it overnight (and had no intention of getting out of bed every few hours to change water) I figured it could just go into the fridge, wait until morning (when I could change the water) then wait another nine hours until I got home from work.
Then, I had to leave it simmering for 40 minutes with three cups of sugar, a cup of water and two tablespoons of rosewater.
I’m not sure it went as planned; it ended up kind of soggy, when I’m sure glacé fruit is supposed to stay firm. Then again, there was no crystalising, as you should do when making glacé fruit; but the recipe didn’t say to simmer that long, only until the syrup had thickened.
I bottled it just as I would for jam, in sterile jars that I heated afterwards to make doubly-sure of the seal.
UPDATE: Apparently this is one of my most popular blog posts. If you got here after googling, please comment and tell me what you were looking for, and if you found this useful!