Watermelon, let me count the ways. It has long been the preferred fruit for the classic summer picnic, chilled on ice, cut into wedges, and eaten by hand with joy, causing ear-to-ear stickiness.
Back in the '60s, my Aunt Grace made watermelon pickles from the rind, which were enjoyed by her nieces and nephews and referred to with disdain by her brother, our father. We thought it was pretty fancy that Aunt Grace cut the rind off the melon before we ate it. Now that I think about it she was probably trying to keep our little teeth marks off her “pickle-making rinds.”
When I was an apprentice cook in Houston, I learned to enjoy watermelon with feta cheese, not a far cry from my grandfather putting salt on his slice years ago. You can enjoy your melon this way simply by crumbling some feta cheese over some sliced or diced fruit.
Thinking that I should give some technical information about watermelon, I checked the Washington State University agriculture website that has all you would ever want to know about watermelon, including days to maturity.
Around here gardeners have a tight window to work in; somewhere from 84 to 103 days. There are three main varieties of watermelon: Personal or Mini, Icebox and Picnic. Besides size variations, they range in sweetness and color, and there are seedless varieties. And there’s another whole discussion about whether seedless varieties are a genetically modified product.
This is getting way too technical for me. I am no botanist. I don’t mind seeds, how could you have a seed-spitting contest without them? Although, seedless is the way to go for convenience in the many recipes for drinks, salads and sorbets.
The following is a recipe for Watermelon Sorbet. Remember those Donvier ice cream makers? I have a collection of them that I have picked up at thrift stores. They work really well. Keep the cylinder in the freezer so you can use it at a moment’s notice.
Makes 8 servings
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cups cubed seeded watermelon (or seedless)
Combine sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and chill.
Blend watermelon in a blender or food processor until pureed. Stir pureed watermelon into sugar mixture. Transfer watermelon mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Story is a North Dakota farm girl who worked as a chef in metropolitan areas. After settling in Montana, where there are more cattle than people, I’ve transitioned from catering and working in hotels to a new career in secondary education.