Watermelon Rind Pickles

_MG_6464I've been wanting to try my hand at making watermelon rind pickles since last summer, when I realized how much watermelon rind goes to waste when you eat the red part. I had also tried them at a great little restaurant in Williamsburg called Rye (get the duck confit), and I'm pretty happy with how well they turned out. _MG_6472 These are what you would call "quick pickles" - you don't seal the jars, but if you would prefer to use that method I'm sure it would work.  Serve with pulled pork sandwiches, chicken liver mousse, or as part of a cheese plate._MG_6474 Watermelon Rind Pickles (adapted from Epicurious)

1 4-pound piece watermelon, quartered

8 cups water

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar

8 whole cloves (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves)

8 whole black peppercorns

2 cinnamon sticks

1/2 teaspoon pickling spice

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Cut watermelon pulp from rind, leaving thin layer of pink on rind (reserve pulp for another use). Cut green outer skin from rind; discard. Cut enough rind into 1 x 1/2-inch pieces to measure 4 cups. Combine 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt in large pot; bring to boil. Add rind pieces and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Strain. Transfer rinds to large metal bowl. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons salt, sugar and next 7 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over watermelon rinds in bowl. Place plate atop rinds to keep rinds submerged in pickling liquid. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Strain liquid from rinds into saucepan; bring to boil. Pour over rinds. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Repeat straining and boiling of liquid and pour over rinds 1 more time. Pour rind and liquid into jars and cover. (Will keep, refrigerated, for 2-3 weeks.)