I jumped the gun.
The watermelons out in the garden sure looked ripe. They were the right size, had a yellow spot on the bottom from where they had been laying on the ground, and were pretty close to their projected ripening date. I really really wanted watermelon. So much so that I overlooked some of the other indicators of a ripe watermelon - the tendril closest to the stem hadn't yet turned brown and when thumped it sounded more hollow than dull. (did I mention that I really really wanted watermelon?)
I picked it anyway and when I cut it open found myself with a totally unripe watermelon. Bummer.
I certainly wasn't going to let it go to waste so I figured I would make some watermelon rind sweet pickles. I cut the skin off and cut the flesh into similarly sized pieces, leaving out the seeds. My watermelon was small variety and I got about 3 cups of flesh from it.
You can find a lot of different recipes for pickled watermelon rind online, but basically you're cooking the rind in a simple syrup of vinegar and sugar, with some spices added. When it's done, you have pickled rind. It's pretty good, but I will say that the flesh parts were still very "fleshy" and the consistency wasn't as good as the rind area. Since it was just OK, I decided to take it a step further.
I put the pickled rind in my dehydrator and let them get to the "good and chewy" stage. These we liked. They are sweet but not cloying and now my daughter doesn't need to drink the sugar water out of the hummingbird feeder to get her sugar fix (which I caught her doing twice this week).
Even so, I'll be a bit more careful when I pick the next one.
Have a great weekend, everyone.