This is an old time recipe that my mother and grandmothers used to make pear preserves. They used whole cinnamon sticks and cloves, but I've used ground and they taste good too. I experimented with watermelon rinds and found that the basic recipe works just as good. I did cut back on the sugar, originally it calls for 2 parts fruit to 1 part sugar, which is a bit much for my liking. The end result is a syrupy sweet fruit preserve, not like the preserves that are store bought, so don't expect store bough consistency. These are good old time simplicity.
- Trim green peel and red flesh from watermelon. Cut rind into small cubes (14-16 cups).
- Place cubed rind into stainless steel pot (Dutch oven size) and add one part sugar to two parts rind (I use little less sugar in my recipe). Let sit until sugar dissolves, a couple or hours or overnight (preferably overnight). Rind and sugar should have made its own liquid.
- Start cooking on medium, checking and stirring until it starts to boil, about 20-30 minutes.
- Add thinly sliced lemon, juice and zest of the other lemon. Stir in ground or whole spices of your choice.
- Turn down heat to low and cook on low heat until rinds are translucent, checking and stirring often (don’t want the sugar to burn). (Approximately 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours more or less, until rinds are translucent).
- If using red food coloring, add a few drops to desired color at this point, stir well.
- Seal in prepared jars, clean jars, lids and rings placed in boiling water until ready to fill. Approximately (8) 1/2 pint jars, (16) 1/4 pint jars, or (4) pint jars.
- Immediately after filling jars I like to turn them upside down for 5-10 minutes, supposedly to help them seal.
- Optional instead of ground spices add with lemons:
- Cinnamon sticks (eight short pieces, 1 for each jar).
- Whole cloves (16-32 cloves, 2-4 for each jar).
- Grated fresh ginger (1 tablespoon).
- Red food coloring.