Watermelon is the 4th of July fruit. No summer picnic buffet is complete without serving this cold, sweet melon. Almost four billion pounds of watermelons are produced every year and it is easily the best-loved fruit in America.
With a low calorie count and filled with vitamin’s and minerals, especially Vitamin C, this fruit that has been a favorite of humankind for a very long time. The watermelon seems to have originated in southern Africa about 5,000 years ago. The wild African melons have flavors that vary from sweet to bitter. Watermelons are a part of the Cucurbitaceae family which includes cucumbers, as well as squash and pumpkins. Some varieties of this melon can weigh almost 70 pounds.
There is evidence that Egyptians grew watermelon in the Nile Valley beginning about 2,000 years ago. Watermelon seeds were found at Twelfth Dynasty sites including in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen.
By the 7th century India was cultivating this delicious melon. The Chinese were enjoying watermelons by the 10th century. China to this day retains the title of being the largest producer of watermelons in the world.
Moorish invaders introduced watermelon to Europe. Evidence of the domestic production of this melon in Europe can be found as early as 960 A.D. European colonists and African slaves brought the watermelon to the New World. Spanish settlers grew the fruit in Florida as early as 1576 and its cultivation spread to Native Americans, New England, Peru, Brazil, Panama and many other colonies by 1650’s. Captain James Cook brought its seeds to Hawaii.
Contrary to what many people think, seedless watermelons are not genetically modified, but are sterile hybrids. These melons are created when male pollen containing 22 chromosomes per cell are introduced into a female watermelon blossom having 44 chromosomes per cell. The fruit of this melon marriage contains only 33 chromosomes making it sterile and unable to produce seeds.
Charleston Grey Melon
When I was young the only watermelon variety that were ever for sale were the unstriped, light green, huge Charleston Greys. I have not even seen one for years, but their superior taste and texture will never be forgotten. Nor, will the memory of watermelon seed spitting contests between uncles, cousins, and siblings fade.
After the melons were consumed the rinds were collected in a very large bowl or bucket to be saved to make one of my favorite spicy pickled treats. I hope you enjoy this recipe for Watermelon Pickles–The Happy Pickle.
Watermelon Pickles—The Happy Pickle
I love going for walks with my husband and our dogs. Especially on beautiful August mornings such as today. This morning’s dew on the grass was sparkling like diamonds, the crickets were chirping and the birds were singing above the soft whisper of the breeze rustling the aspen tree’s silvery leaves. Mornings like this always transport me back to lazy August days on the farm.
The first weeks of August was summer on a grain farm. It was when many of the outside chores with the crops are done until harvest. The crops are too big to cultivate or weed and picking the rocks out of the fields is done for the year.
Work in the kitchen slows down a bit too. Most of the summer berries are frozen, sauced or jellied. Canning season was finishing up for peaches, cherries, and beans and had not started…
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