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Watermelon Rind Pickles...

You have to understand that I wasn't raised around a lot of canning being done. My Meema did her "due" during the Great War and my mama is NOT a kitchen person. She did do some canning around 1969 when she and an old family friend put up some pear preserves and pickles. The pear preserves were GREAT, the bread and butter pickles were good but the dill pickles reeked. BLARG!!!! The BAD part about that was that I had to EAT the homemade pickles before mama would buy me anymore pickles and well, I WANTED more store bought pickles so I ate the nasty homemade dills. I still shudder at the thought!

Anyway, despite my not being raised around the canning process, one fine June day in Arkansas I decided to make watermelon rind pickles, freeze watermelon balls for snacks and make pickled okra to boot. Now you have to realize that I had NEVER eaten a watermelon rind pickle in my life, had never consumed pickled okra and didn't have a clue one about canning things. These facts did not stop me from buying canning and freezing equipment (for the melon balls), then going to the farmer's market to buy some watermelon and okra. I do not know WHAT possessed me to take on this project but take it on I did.

With a little help from my then boyfriend, I took over my mom's tiny kitchen and with a watermelon scoop in hand I made watermelon balls and got them slung into the freezer. Then I pulled out a recipe book for information on making watermelon rind pickles (don't know how I knew which recipe book to get, this event happened in 1976 and a lot of time has passed since then). I soon commenced to making watermelon rind pickles, putting them in the prepared canning jars and canned about 6 or so pints of watermelon rind pickles. I did the "canning thing" and then set the jars aside to cool.

After that it was time for me to make the pickled okra, now I was one whipped puppy and wondered what in the sam heck I had gotten myself into but I found a recipe for making pickled okra and started the process one step at a time. As I was working on the pickled okra I was cleaning up the hellacious mess that I had made with the watermelon balls and watermelon rind pickles. There was watermelon juice everywhere including in my hair and covering my overalls. I was a mess.

As I cleaned my boyfriend, Stephen, used the excuse of having to go to work as a means of escape and I was on my own with the pickled okra. I cooked, put into the prepared pint jars and "canned" the jars of okra as I finished cleaning. I put the watermelon rind pickles and the pickled okra away so that they could "set" the recommended amount of time for them to have the optimum taste.

Once the jars were put away I finished cleaning the kitchen, then I took a bath and went to bed. I spent more than 12 hours on the entire process. I don't remember where my mom, dad and siblings were that day. I imagine they were fishing down at our cabin on the White River in DeVall's Bluff as that is where we usually spent weekends in the summertime. All I know is that they weren't at home in my way while I was engaged in this crazy process that I was truly clueless about.

After the proscribed amount of time passed on the watermelon rind pickles and pickled okra I sampled them with eager anticipation. The watermelon rind pickles were pretty good, I didn't know what to expect as I'd never had a watermelon rind pickle cross my lips before but the pickled okra was WAY salty. I must have salted it twice but I made it and I ate it.

My Papa Tom, who was my maternal step-grandfather liked the watermelon rind pickles pretty well and he was a good old country boy who had eaten such things in the past. He agreed about the pickled okra being too salty but politely ate some anyway. My Meema Barbara, his wife made some beans and cornbread and we all had a good old fashioned country dinner with my "bounty" on the side. Meema Barbara and Papa Tom were the only people in my family who seemed to like what I had made. My parents were not at all enthralled by the watermelon rind pickles and the pickled okra nor was my boyfriend. My siblings wouldn't even try them. Everyone DID like the watermelon balls and my mother was rather impressed that I tried out canning in her absence. I was sort of impressed myself.

I never again made watermelon rind pickles or pickled okra. I never again canned a thing although I have gotten canning equipment to do so more than once since this episode in 1976. I just remember how hard and hot it was to can and just couldn't muster up the energy to go for it again. People who can on a regular basis have lots of respect from me. I think that they are amazing and I humbly bow before them as for me. I only needed one episode to teach me just how lucky I am to live in a time where I don't HAVE to can my food in order to survive. I have dried and frozen food since the canning episode but that is so much easier than canning it is like a walk in the park.

If you can your food, I salute you.



Mar. 25th, 2011 06:11 pm (UTC)
Brighde wants to can tomatoes this summer. I shudder at the thought, mainly because of the whole botulism thing. (Maybe we can make botox out of it?)
Mar. 26th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
Tomatoes are high acid and one of the safest foods do can. Does that help? MWA!



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