Big green water balloon
Thursday October 01st 2020, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

Four years after I bought the seeds, I finally planted and harvested a Bradford watermelon, once the most popular in America. But the coming of the railroads pushed them almost to extinction: their rinds were too soft to stack, they didn’t ship well, their market fell apart. Cue Bob Dylan singing, “It’s a hard rind…is going to falllll…”

This article shows you what watermelons looked like in Renaissance paintings; mine with its thick white inner portion isn’t too far off from that.

I’m told my oldest uses watermelon rind in curry but I wouldn’t have a clue how or for that matter why one would, so for the moment there’s a lot of flavor-free melon part that I can’t see what to do with. The actual part you do eat as, y’know, watermelon, is okay but frankly ordinary.

But I can see how it would once have been a very practical thing to have around when you’re at work on a farm on a hot summer day.

There’s a book in the Wizard of Oz series where a little girl (Betsy, I think?) and a man she called Cap’n are shipwrecked at the start of the story. There were melons growing on the island they found themselves on, and Cap’n took satisfaction in that: melons were both food and water, he said; however long it might take to be rescued, they were going to be okay.

That stuck with me because I couldn’t see how you could think of a melon that way. Any melon. Forever after I wondered what the author knew that I didn’t.

Now, I think I do, and I realize that L. Frank Baum was much closer to the time of melons like mine than today’s. And I finally see where the name water-melon comes from.

So much fluid suspended in those cells. Just picking seeds out of one slice I was able to pour off a bit and sample how the juice tasted.

Michelle’s flash of brilliance was that, rather than try to pick all those seeds out, how about using a potato masher on the slices–since there are only three of us to eat all of that and fridge space was at a premium.

I got out one very large bowl and one barely-fitting slice at a time and proceeded to do just that. The Bradford was crisp but collapsed almost without resistance. The interior became little pink icebergs floating in the sea; the seeds rose to the surface and were easy to pick out.

I did it. I grew it. I don’t think I’d ever seen a watermelon growing before. I hadn’t even eaten a watermelon in years. It was fun.

And, curiosity satisfied, I am not spending hundreds of Californian gallons to grow one again.

4 Comments so far
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Oldest probably uses pickled watermelon rind in curry.

Comment by Anne 10.01.20 @ 11:20 pm

There’s certainly something to be said for satisfying your curiosity. The melons in that painting look so weird!

I remember that Oz book; I loved that whole series, or at least as many as my mother found at library book sales. Many books!

Comment by ccr in MA 10.02.20 @ 5:19 am

Crazy watermelons! The article mentions less than optimal growing conditions. So maybe limited water supply was one of the things to overcome.

I love watermelon, it’s crispy *and* wet – perfect summer cool down.

Comment by Chris S in Canada 10.02.20 @ 4:40 pm

My grandmother (having lived farm life during the 1930’s) didn’t waste anything. She made watermelon pickles from the rinds. They are a crunchy, sweet pickle with cinnamon for flavor. I love watermelon, but not a big fan of any pickles.

Comment by Helen Mathey-Horn 10.02.20 @ 9:27 pm

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