Thrifty

They say that 2015 is going to be the year of recession, so maybe we should get in early and start to tighten our belts. As I’m not working at the moment, I’m already trying harder to not be so frivolous with my money. I am not yet at the stage where I am making my own moonshine or clothes, but I am spending far more time planning when it comes to grocery shopping, so there is less spent on the weekly shop and as a bonus, less weekly wastage.

Our household still produces its fair share of waste; but more recently, it’s been a case of an increasing awareness to minimise what is getting binned. Any bananas that are still around at the end of the week are chucked in the freezer and when there are enough, I’ll make banana bread. The abundance of lemons that are often given to us are turned into curd and any vegetables that look like they only have another day left are easily turned into pakoras or okonomyaki with a few other pantry staples.

It’s led me to think more about the things that we would normally throw away; things that could easily have a second chance as something else to enjoy, rather than simply becoming landfill or worm food. Stuff that we simply do not think about or most likely; couldn’t be bothered doing anything about. Using vegetable peelings for stock is one that comes to mind. Sadly, I’m just not that driven to be that overtly conscious, although I should try harder.

With summer fast approaching, my kids love nothing more than eating their bodyweight in watermelon and I’m quite partial to the stuff too, particularly as a salad with marinaded goats feta, mint and olives. I hate the wastage though. Over half of what is bought usually gets dumped in the bin or at the very least, if you buy a whole melon, you can make a zany helmet to wear to the cricket.

Using watermelon rind for a jam or pickle has been in the back of my head for a few months. A friend of mine in Adelaide is running a stall at a local market that sells a range of naan breads and other home-made treats. Their preserves and pickles have been big sellers and their watermelon jam is a winner.

This was enough for me to give it a go and see for myself. Is this the epitome of turning waste into a delicious commodity of a condiment?

So, what to make? A Pickle, preserve or chutney? What would I use more? I opted for a pickle to start with. It’s pretty interchangeable with chicken, pork, charcuterie or even with a good, crumbly cheddar.

The recipe is pretty basic. No more than 10 minutes of prep and 15 minutes on the stove.

Pickled Watermelon Rind (makes approximately 500ml)

Rind from one mini watermelon (mine was the size between a lawn bowl and a bowling ball), including some of the red flesh
1 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp salt
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick

I used a boning knife to cut the flesh from each half of the watermelon, leaving about half a centimetre of flesh on the rind, before using a vegetable peeler to remove the green skin.

After cutting the flesh from the rind and using a vegetable peeler to remove the green skin, I cut the rind into a half-centimetre dice. One mini watermelon gave me a little over four cups of peeled rind.

The rind was paced into a medium-sized saucepan with the other ingredients and simmered over a medium-high heat for around 15 minutes, until the rind becomes a little translucent.

If you leave it to cool, then refrigerate for a few hours, it’s ready to go. Otherwise, you can pop it into a sterilised jar, where it should keep for a couple of weeks. It’s a reasonably small quantity, so hopefully it won’t last you that long.

I’ll never be as inventive or inclined as Joost Bakker, but this is a great step forward in turning potential waste into deliciousness… one recipe at a time.

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