Ancient Foods,  Culinary History,  Fermented Foods,  Fermenting,  Food History,  Health

Watermelon Rind Pickles?

In my reading and studying of historical cookbooks and food, I have often seen mentioned the interesting condiment known as the watermelon rind pickle. Now, I don’t know about you, but that always sounded very odd to me and always caused me to shake my head a little bit in disgust. Why are we eating the rind of the watermelon? What are we? Cattle?

Well stocked because of hard work...Farmhouse Pantry by Dave Wilson. Photo taken at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm.

But as I gave it some thought and did a bit more research, I actually changed my mind about this interesting dish and started to admire the resourcefulness of our forefathers.
You see, our forefathers and foremothers, no matter what country you are from, did not have grocery stores like we do now. It is hard to imagine. Everything that you had to eat for the winter and often the year, was what you could grow in your field or find in the woods, plains, forests and pastures. If you had a bad crop or your cattle or sheep died, that could determine how hungry you might go that winter.

Our forefathers had to be resourceful. And not only resourceful, but creative and thoughtful with what they did to preserve food. Being self-reliant was not just something they thought they might try to do. It was a way of life and being prepared for what life and nature might throw at you was the only way to survive.

Which brings me back to the much maligned watermelon rind pickle.

I’ve come to realize that preserving and making something into a food that would normally be thrown away is the better part of genius. And that was what was done by our forefathers more often than not. Besides the watermelon pickle, there were such interesting food items created as corncob jelly, green tomato jam, dried candied citrus peel and pickled eggs. Maybe we could all take a second look at what we usually throw away and learn to salvage what might still be good 🙂

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