We ate watermelon at Grandma's house in the summer. She even carved "baskets" out of the shell of the watermelon, scooped out all the juicy, red middle, and filled the basket with wonderful fruit salads. One time, when I was very young, maybe 3 (I remember it being at her old kitchen in the house my mother grew up in) she carved a whale with big teeth to hold the fruit salad. That whale scared me and I ran from the kitchen!
Nothing went to waste at Grandma's house. Like many thrifty Polish cooks, she took the rinds from the watermelon and pickled it. She would serve it all fall and winter at various family and holiday meals on relish trays that also included such treats as green olives, cocktail onions, celery hearts, sweet baby gherkins, and bread and butter chips.
I have yet to find Grandma's recipe, but in the meantime ran across this recipe which seems similar:
Pickled Watermelon Rind
(from Lynn's Country Kitchen)
3 pounds watermelon rind
Salted water (use 3 tablespoons salt for each quart of water)
2 pounds sugar
3 cups distilled white vinegar
6 pieces stick cinnamon (3 inches each)
2 tablespoons whole allspice
2 tablespoons whole cloves
2 tablespoons whole mustard seed
Cut rind into 1-inch cubes; trim off outer green skin and bright pink flesh. Soak overnight in enough salted water to cover. Drain.
Heat sugar and vinegar to boiling. Tie spices in cheesecloth bag.
Add spice bag and melon rind to vinegar mixture. Cook, uncovered, until melon is transparent, about 45 minutes. Discard spice bag.
If desired, add a few drops of red or green food coloring to the rind.
Pack watermelon rind tightly into hot, sterilized jars.
Pour boiling syrup over watermelon to with 1/8-inch of top, making sure vinegar solution covers rind.
Seal each jar at once.