Most experts say watermelons taste best just off the vine, simply chilled and cut in wedges. But watermelon has been served in just about every way imaginable: as rind pickles, and in preserves, salads, slushes, cakes and pastries. During the Civil War, the Confederate Army boiled down watermelons as a source of sugar and molasses. Russians go so far as to make beer from watermelon juice.
Americana magazine, July, 1989
Peeled rind from 1 large watermelon (about 8 cups) cut into 1-inch strips or squares
1/2 c. salt
2 1/2 c. cider vinegar
2 c. sugar
2 T. whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken in pieces
2 T. allspice
Place the rind in a pot. Mix the salt with 1 1/2 quarts cold water and pour it over the rind. Let is soak for about 6 hours. Drain and rinse in cold water several times. Add fresh, cold water to cover, bring to boil, and simmer until fork-tender. Drain. Put the vinegar and sugar in a separate pot with a c. of water, and add the cloves, cinnamon, and allspice tied in cheesecloth. Simmer until the sugar dissolves. Add the watermelon rind, and simmer until liquid is clear; add more water if necessary. Remove cheesecloth bag, pack the pickles in sterilized jars with the boiling liquid, and seal. Makes 2 quarts.
From the July 1993 issue.