BrightRx: Natasha Pickowicz's Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind

BrightRx: Natasha Pickowicz's Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind

July marks the launch of a new addition to the Brightland family. After two golden years, we are introducing fruit-forward, double-fermented and family-farm to table vinegars, each with their own distinct flavor palate and tasting notes, lovingly made in California. PARASOL is a raw champagne vinegar that is double fermented with California chardonnay grapes and juicy Navel and Valencia oranges. RAPTURE is a raw balsamic vinegar that is double fermented with California zinfandel grapes and ripe Triple Crown blackberries. 

We have a special edition of BrightRx this month to celebrate our new fruit-forward vinegars. Natasha Pickowicz has shared a Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind recipe with us using PARASOL

Natasha Pickowicz is a NYC-based pastry chef, writer, and activist. Most recently, she ran the pastry programs at NYC restaurants Altro Paradiso, Flora Bar, and Flora Coffee. Earlier this spring, Natasha was announced as a Finalist for the 2020 James Beard Foundation Awards for Outstanding Pastry Chef, her third year being nominated in that category. Much of her pastry work explores the relationship with baking and social justice, including ongoing collaborations with seminal NYC institutions like Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, God's Love We Deliver, and Planned Parenthood of Greater New York. 

“Juicy, crisp wedges of fresh watermelon are one of my all-time favorite summer treats, but lately I’ve been wondering what to do with the leftover rind. Gently pickling the rind in a mixture of water and Champagne vinegar infuses the fruit with a tart bite, while also preserving its structure and firmness. Candying the pickled rind yields a tender, not-too-sweet candy with irresistible, sour undertones. 

A spoonful of candied rind is delicious sprinkled on yogurt in the morning, or on top of ice cream as an evening treat. Chopped finely and spread on buttered toast is yet another way to enjoy this summer staple. I also like to think of it as similar to mostarda, the spicy Italian condiment of candied fruit held in a mustardy syrup; try the rind alongside rich, fatty foods like grilled sausages, charcuterie, or creamy cheeses. 

Held in its syrup, the candy will stay fresh in the fridge for up to a month. Try to find a mini watermelon, if you can; the smaller fruit produces a thinner rind, so each bite contains the prettiest ombre of delicate yellow and pink hues.” - Natasha Pickowicz

Photo by Betty Liao

Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind

By Natasha Pickowicz





Remove the tough outer green skin of the watermelon with a vegetable peeler. (The outer layer of the watermelon will stay tough even after blanching, so remove for best results). 

Cut the watermelon into quarters by cutting in half, and then in half again, using a large kitchen knife. 

Using a small serrated knife or spoon, scoop out or slice most of the red fruit, leaving a thin layer of red attached to the rind. (Save the fruit for snacking or juicing!)

Carefully slice the remaining rind into long strips about 1cm” wide. 

In a medium-sized saucepot, bring 400mL water and 200mL PARASOL champagne vinegar up to a simmer. In batches, add the watermelon rind and cook on very low heat until just tender, about 30-40 minutes. The peel will be fully blanched when the rind looks semi-translucent and is tender, but not mushy. 

When all the peel is cooked, remove from the pot with a slotted spoon or tongs, but keep the remaining brine. Add 400g white sugar to the brine and bring back up to a simmer. Add a big pinch of kosher salt.

While the syrup is heating up, process the cooked rind into the shape of your choice. For long, slivered crescents, cut the rind into 2” long batons and then slice thinly. For small candied “confetti” shapes, dice into small cubes. The smaller shapes will guarantee more even candying once introduced back into the syrup.   

Add the chopped peel back into the simmer and cook on low heat until the syrup is reduced and thick and the rind is candied, glossy and firm. The process should take between 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir occasionally and taste as you go to monitor the texture. 

Remove from heat and let cool fully. Hold candy in its syrup and store in the refrigerator tightly sealed. Add more PARASOL champagne vinegar if you would like to make the syrup more tart. Sprinkle on top of your favorite sweet or savory treat and enjoy!