Waste Not the Wonderful Watermelon


| 11/14/2016 12:00:00 AM


One of my favorite childhood memories is gathering at my grandparents’ home on summer Sunday evenings with our extended family. Sometimes, my grandmother would stir cream, sugar and vanilla flavoring and pour the mixture into a large cylinder. Packing ice and rock salt around the cylinder in a churn, she attached the hand crank and each child turned the crank until it was too difficult for our small arms to handle. At that point, my grandfather, father and uncles stepped in to complete the job and when my grandmother removed the lid, we all eagerly scooped homemade ice cream into waiting bowls, sighing with delight as sticky drips fell from our chins. While making ice cream was an occasional event, far more often, we enjoyed another treat that was every bit as special and delicious.

Watermelon Moon and stars

Heirloom Moon and Stars Watermelon

Plucked from my grandmother’s garden, chilled in a galvanized tub filled with ice and cold well water, fresh watermelon, with its sweet flavor and singular aroma, signaled Summer like no other food.  Wielding a huge knife, Granny split the melon in half and all the children gathered to watch the first cut, impatiently dancing from one foot to the other until waiting hands received a slice.  A large salt shaker was passed and after a liberal sprinkling, I would dive into crisp, red flesh that crunched, filling my mouth with sweet, salty flavor and seeds.  My brother, cousins and I would hold contests to see who could spit watermelon seeds the farthest and my mother cautioned us to avoid eating any seeds.  “If you swallow watermelon seeds,” she would say, “they will grow in your belly and send vines out your ears.”  Despite the warning, I sometimes ate seeds and anxiously imagined how painful it would be to sprout leaves from my ears. 

After weeks of no rainfall at Heart & Sole Gardens, late summer showers saved the watermelon crop from dismal failure.  Two heirloom varieties produced juicy, sweet fruit and I celebrated the small harvest by enjoying fresh watermelon in every way I could think of and preserving as much as possible for later use.  Although fresh, crisp watermelon flesh is about as Summer-Sensational as a food can be, this fruit offers adventurous cooks a wealth of opportunities to creatively reduce food waste.  Watermelon seeds, despite my mother’s warning, pack a nutritional punch and a significant source of protein and watermelon rind cubes are perfect for pickling, retaining crisp texture and absorbing sweet or salty solutions.



watermelon seeds



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