Sunday, June 12, 2005

Watermelon Pickles & Tell Myrt the Story

How I do look forward to all your messages, and particularly the many communications concerning making preserves, etc. This is especially meaningful to me as I reminisce about helping my mom in her many endeavors throughout my life. Mom died recently at the tender age of 100 and I am full of tears and joy at all the comments that this subject has created. We never used Certo or any other "additive" but rather just measured equal portions of fruit and sugar and cooked it until it began to thicken. I still do that with my "cultivated, thornless" blackberries, adding just a bit of lemon juice to enhance the flavor.

Now I read the nostalgia in Charlie's longing for Watermelon Pickles. My daughter and I are planning to make some as soon as we get a really good watermelon. This is my mother's recipe. Hope it resembles that in Charlie's memory.

3 lb. white portion of watermelon, cubed
5 cups sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon whole allspice
several pieces stick cinnamon, broken
1 lemon, sliced
Let watermelon stand overnight in enough salted water to cover. Drain. Cover with fresh cold water; bring to a boil. Cook over low heat until tender. Drain. Combine sugar, vinegar, and water. Tie spices and lemon slices in cheesecloth bag. Add to sugar misture. Boil for 5 minutes. Add watermelon. Simmer till cubes are transparent. Remove spice bag. Pack in hot sterilized jars. Yield 3 pints. NOTE: I prefer cooking the spices and lemon without the bag and leaving them in the jars. It is delightful sucking that sweet juice through the cinnamon sticks. Enjoy!

From: Al Jensen
I, too, remember fondly the watermelon rind preserves - we weren't allowed to eat all the pink, either! My wife, however, came up with a unique solution to several problems at once. It's a lot of work peeling the watermelon rind, but she got smart, and found that she could utilize a lot of the excess zucchini squash and simplify the watermelon preserve production by using the zucchini instead of watermelon rind. The squash produced much more material for the effort, and it made nice, regular pieces, either cut across into rounds, or lengthwise into 3/8 inch 'french fries'. There is little difference in the result when it comes to eating, but it sure is easier.

From: Virginia B
Charles' watermelon preserves brought back some more treasured memories! My Hoosier mother canned or otherwise preserved many things. She had a large garden, and many jars were filled for the winter season. Daddy slaughtered a hog each winter, and they preserved the meat, made lard, sausage, cracklin's. Precious memories of family times!

Yes, I remember my Grandmother making watermelon Pickles an so Good!! Roland

OK, DearREADERS, do me a favor. Write 3-4 paragraphs about these canning, vegetable garden, hog calling-type recollections. Don't worry about grammar, just TELL MYRT THE STORY! Then send me the scanned image of the old homestead, or the person in question. I will create a special article to honor that ancestor for you on my website! Let's also place that story in NOTES (in your genealogy program) for each individual in the story.

Come on! You can DO this! Your grand-children are simply NOT going to believe what you will remember. This sort of self-sufficient, pre-1950s kitchen and household methods is now a lost art, but it's not too late to tell the story. I want to know:

  • Where did that ancestor live?
  • What time period did your anecdote take place?
  • What did the house look like?
  • How was the kitchen different from those we have today?
  • What did the cabinets look like?
  • What kind of flooring was it, and what color?
  • What did the stove look like? (wood burning, gas, electric, over the fire outside, smokehouse?)
  • What did he/she wear?
  • Any family sayings associated with the procedure?
  • Did they have a root cellar?
  • Did they have electric or gas lights?
  • Did they have a vegetable garden?
  • How did they fertilize and till the soil in the spring?
  • Was there a swing? (porch, tree, etc.)
  • What did they do to "winter over" the garden?
  • What about fruit and/or nut trees on the property or in the neighborhood?
  • Did they make soap, preserves, candles, sausage?
  • How was the laundry done?
  • Describe in 7-9 sentences a typical "Sunday" dinner. Contrast that with weekday meals.
  • When you had holiday get-togethers, did the kids sit at a different table in the kitchen?
  • What sorts of things did your parents and grandparents tell you was important in life?
  • Was there a radio or victrola?
  • When did he/she get television?
  • Describe the telephone situation?
  • Tell about the living room furniture.
  • Do you remember before vacuum cleaners? If so, please describe how the floors and carpets were cleaned.

SPECIAL QUESTION FROM MYRT: What were those lace doilies over the back of the chair and the arms called? Amagascar or something like that. doesn't recognize the word. I am lost. They were used to protect the upholstery from dirt. I know at least one of my dear readers can fill me in on that word.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

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