Apparently, pickled watermelon rind is a southern thing, but the only place I've ever seen it was at a church sale in Ohio. It's supposed to be a condiment, but i understand you can bake pork loin with it or even put the sweet stuff (which the recipe that follows is) on ice cream. I'll let ya know how it works out on pork and ice cream another day. For now, The Recipe:
16 c. Peeled watermelon rind, sliced into 2x1 inch slices
1 c. Pickling Salt
8+ c. Water, Divided (Neither water measurement needs to be exact)
6 c. Sugar
4 c. White Vinegar
4 Cinnamon Sticks
Day 1: (yes, it's a 2 day process)
In a large crock, glass or stainless steel bowl, layer watermelon rind and salt. Add 4 c. water (I found it wasn't enough to cover, and it needs to be. Feel free to add more water. I added a little extra salt to compensate but im not sure its a big deal either way)
Place large, clean, inverted plate or pie pan on top of the rind and weigh down with 2 or 3 quart jars filled with water. Cover with plastic wrap or clean towel and refrigerate overnight. (my bowl was so big i didn't know how on Earth i was gonna get it in the fridge with everything else, then Nick reminded me we have a basement fridge now... duh, what would I do without him?)
1. Transfer rind to colander. Drain and rinse (repeat).
2. In large saucepan, combine rind with remaining 4 c. cool water (again, i found this was not enough to cover and adjusted to compensate). Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently until rind is fork tender (aka: just like mashed potatoes), about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. In the same saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar and cinnamon sticks (be sure to count them! They're like bay leaves, you'll have to account for them later). Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Add reserved rind and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until watermelon is translucent. Discard cinnamon sticks.
4. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids if you have not already.
5. Pack hot rind into jars with generous 1/2 in. headspace. Wipe the rims and screw on the rings and lids.
6. Boil jars for 10 minutes, then remove to rack to cool for 24 hours. Make sure all of your lids have vacuumed before you store the stuff.
UPDATE: These pickles took 2nd Place at the Washington County Fair 2011