17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Friday, September 20, 1912: Don’t have much for today.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
I continue to enjoy making foods that were popular in central Pennsylvania in the early 20th century. Since Grandma didn’t write much I’ll tell you about my latest cooking endeavor.
Pickled foods were incredibly popular a hundred years ago.
I decided to make old-fashioned watermelon pickles—and they looked lovely and tasted great.
It was a three-day process, but well worth the effort.
Old Fashioned Watermelon Pickles
4-5 quarts watermelon rind
2 cups apple cider vinegar
7 cups sugar
1 tablespoon whole cloves
3 sticks cinnamon
1 inch cube of fresh ginger
Select watermelon with a thick, firm rind. Cut off the outer green skin, and remove the red watermelon flesh, leaving a very thin layer of pink. Cut into 1-inch squares. Place in a 2 gallon glass bowl or crock. (I used 2 smaller bowls).
Cover with a salt water solution (2 tablespoons salt to 4 quarts water). Cover and let stand for 24 hours at room temperature.
After 24 hours, drain and rinse with cold water. Cover with ice water. Let stand for 1 hour, then drain.
Place the rind in a large pan, and cover with boiling water. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain.
Put spices in a cheesecloth bag. Combine vinegar, sugar, and spices in large pan. Bring to a boil. Add rind. Simmer until rind is translucent.
Put rind and syrup into large glass bowl or crock. Cover; and let stand for 24 hours at room temperature.
Remove spice bag. Drain off syrup, put into a pan, and heat to boiling.
Pack the rind into hot pint jars; cover with the hot syrup, fill to 1/4 inch of top. Wipe jar rim and put lid on.
Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
Makes approximately 6 pints.