Old-Fashioned Watermelon Rind Pickles

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, September 20, 1912:  Don’t have much for today.

watermelon pickles

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.

Old Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, September 4, 1912:  Same as yesterday.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

The previous day, she’d written:

Nothing doing today.

Sounds like a slow couple of days in Grandma’s life.

I wonder if Grandma’s mother was busy preserving foods for the upcoming winter months while Grandma in school. . . or did she wait until Saturday for major canning projects when she had her daughters home to help.

Maybe she made Bread and Butter Pickles.

Bread and Butter Pickles

8 cups cucumbers, thinly sliced

2 cups onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons salt

2 cups vinegar

3 cups sugar

2 teaspoons turmeric

3 inches stick cinnamon

2 teaspoons celery seed

4 peppers (red and green), finely diced

Mix cucumbers, onions, and salt together in a large ceramic bowl or casserole dish. Let stand two hours; drain. In a large pan mix together vinegar, sugar, turmeric, cinnamon, celery seed, and peppers. Bring to a boil. Put in drained cucumbers and onions. Boil for 15 minutes. Jar and seal.

Makes about 3 1/2 pints. (I usually double the recipe, but it requires a very large pan.)

Note: Small thinly sliced zucchini or yellow summer squash can be substituted for the cucumbers for excellent pickled squash.

I make this recipe almost every summer and they always turn out great.

(I probably should note that this recipe isn’t from my side of the family. I got this old recipe from my mother-in-law, but it is a typical traditional Pennsylvania recipe. In any case, the pickles are really good. )