Appalachian Food

Salted Watermelon

watermelon

One of the culinary highlights of summer for me is eating fresh watermelon. From the time they become available in spring until the last fresh melons of late summer I eat watermelon every day. I just love it.

I always try to grow watermelons, but never have much luck with them. Living on the north side of the mountain means I don’t get near enough sunshine for truly large melons. Even my sugar babies and other small varieties never get as large as they should.

Pap and Granny loved watermelon. Pap would bring one home and put it in the creek to cool and then of an evening we’d take a knife, some towels, and a salt shaker to the backyard to eat that sweet goodness.

We’d spit seeds and talk while the stickiness ran down our arms.

These days I’m the only one that really loves watermelon at my house so I cut them up and put them in the fridge and eat on it till its gone and then get me another one.

I over heard folks talking about whether you should salt your watermelon or not the other day. The sides for salt and no salt were pretty much even. I always salt my watermelon, but I love the fruit so much that if I couldn’t use salt I’d still gobble it down every chance I could.

Granny and Paul still enjoy watermelon and I do believe Miss Cindy loves it as much as I do. They say The Deer Hunter’s Papaw James loved watermelon so much he decided to freeze one and see if he could have watermelon at Christmas. As you might guess his venture didn’t work, but boy I wish it had. Good watermelon in the middle of winter would be a real treat.


Last night’s video: Your Going to Stob Your Eye Out and Other Unique Appalachian Phrases and Sayings.

Tipper

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42 Comments

  • Reply
    Wayne
    August 17, 2021 at 6:01 pm

    Of course you salt it but you have to float it all day to get it cool. We had one in the spring house and my 4 yr old sister went in head first after it

  • Reply
    Mark Taylor
    August 13, 2021 at 10:28 am

    I love watermelon both ways. When growing up, we were taught to use salt if the melon wasn’t quite as sweet as we liked. Actually, I do the same thing with apples. If I get one that’s not quite sweet enough, I put salt on it. My wife thinks I’m nuts, but she doesn’t eat much fruit.

  • Reply
    Bob Russell
    August 10, 2021 at 9:58 pm

    Really enjoyed reading about watermelons which reminded my about my wife’s daddy. She was the baby of 9 and grew up in the 50’s. He always grew a huge garden including lots of watermelons. They lived in a small area called Floridatown, on the Escambia Bay across from Pensacola in the Florida panhandle. The neighborhood boys always stole some of his watermelons, but he
    always got a kick out of them doing so, as he would always plant them down by the road so they wouldn’t trample the
    rest of the garden. And every 4th of July, there was a community picnic of sorts on the shore of the bay where they
    had a fish fry and her daddy would bring a pickup load of watermelons and give them away to the families there.
    Good TImes!! And Great watermelons too!

  • Reply
    Paul Brown
    August 10, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    While serving in Vietnam one of the better memories I had was finding watermelons in the local market. My bunkmate was the quartermaster Seargent for our company and he was a genius at locating “rare” foods so when he came up with 12 perfectly awesome watermelons one day we went absolutely crazy over that pile of melons. Most of us who spent any time in the south were overwhelmed that we could find a treat like this and it sparked an evening of memories of home! I enjoyed it no matter if it had salt or not!

  • Reply
    Jane D. O'Dell
    August 10, 2021 at 12:24 am

    We love watermelon. Some of my favorite memories are of my Dad bringing out a watermelon on a summer evening and us eating it outside with the juice dripping down our faces and arms. We’d be running around bare-footed. If we got really messy, Mama would drag the hose pipe over and make us squirt off, then run around some mor to dry off before we could go in. Sweet memories for sure. I’ve loved it near the end of summer, on a Sunday evening, we’d have a watermelon cutting and several of the people would bring a watermelon and after the service, we’d go out back, spread newspapers on the picnic tables, cut them up and everyone would have some. The kids (and some of the men) would have a seed-spitting contest. Yes, salt, please. After my Dad had a huge heart attack at 40, we quit eating salt on anything, but the good ones are so sweet, they didn’t need salt anyway. Thanks for reminding me of these sweet and yummy memories.

  • Reply
    Marsha Davis
    August 10, 2021 at 12:23 am

    I love watermelon too, Tipper I don’t eat it with salt for health reasons. True story- my mother passed from breast cancer. In her final days, she woke up for a while and asked for watermelon. It was September but we got her some. It was the last thing she ate and she seemed to enjoy it

  • Reply
    Gigi
    August 9, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    We love watermelon around here to. Our grandkids for sure. I also really like cantaloupe. My husband would eat it every day. But I dont eat salt because of my blood pressure.

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    August 9, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    I like watermelon too. Where I grew up (the sandhills of South Carolina) watermelon was a big cash crop for farmers. When I was a teenage I could work in the watermelon field gathering watermelons all day long but those days are gone! I do not put salt on mine but my wife always puts salt on her watermelon. When I was a little kid I believed that if you swallowed a watermelon seed a watermelon vine would grow out of your nose so I was very careful not to swallow any seeds! Randy, my favorite watermelon is a Charleston Gray also. Eating them right out of the field is best. If you notice at a roadside stand the stem of the watermelon is usually sort of long; that is so the seller can cut a little piece of the dried stem off and you think the watermelon is fresher. A friend of mine who sold watermelons taught me that trick. Some people think you can tell if a watermelon is ripe by thumping it; I don’t think that is true – at least I can’t tell by thumping one.
    A cold watermelon is a really great treat to be enjoyed by all.

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    August 9, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    I like salt on cantaloupe but not watermelon. I bought a small watermelon at a farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago. It was so sweet. My maternal great uncle grew the best watermelons when I was a kid. At home, the watermelon chilled all day, and we cut it outdoors just before dark when I was growing up. So good!

    • Reply
      Annie
      August 9, 2021 at 7:01 pm

      When I was an early teen, I’d often go stay with my Aunt in the summer. They had 8 kids and her husband often worked out of town on a road construction job. More then a few times we’d start up a fire, put a big oval coolpacker on the fire filled with young field corn. Out in the yard we were all 10 eatting fresh corn then having watermelon for dessert. And we weren’t beyond having a corn cob fight or watermelon rine fight, before throwing it all over the fence to the “other” pigs. At which time we’d line up by the pump to wash out. Every kid should be reaised in the country.

      • Reply
        Tipper
        August 9, 2021 at 8:10 pm

        Annie-what wonderful memories you have 🙂

        • Reply
          Jan Hutchinson
          August 9, 2021 at 10:26 pm

          My summer memories of watermelon was when my Mom’s Cousin, her husband, and three children came from OH to visit us in Eastern KY. They came each summer and spent a week. We always had a few watermelons during that week. I think they were kept cool in either the refrig or in cool water from the well. After a supper of garden vegetables and fried chicken, we had our watermelon in the yard after dark. Mom’s cousin couldn’t wait to flip the watermelon seeds at my dad! Then the fun began…seeds were flipped everywhere and lasted until around 10:00 p.m.! There were giggles from both adults and children!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 9, 2021 at 2:56 pm

    You could call me the Watermelon Man! I eat a quarter of a watermelon almost every day. Watermelons are full of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to stay healthy. I got a late start but when I finally wized up I embraced it fully. But my health is not the main reason I eat watermelon. I eat it because I love it. Yes, it’s expensive and hard to find in the off season but considering it makes up fully half of my daily intake of food and water it doesn’t hurt as much to pay $12.00 for a small one in February.
    Did I mention I am addicted to watermelon? No salt please!

  • Reply
    Lana
    August 9, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    No salter here. Love the sweet too much.

  • Reply
    Becky
    August 9, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    Depends on the melon whether I salt or not but 95% of the time yes I do!!!

  • Reply
    Donald Wells
    August 9, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    One of my fondest memories of my Momma is eating watermelon,she loved them so much. She always wanted to share with family and friends, the more the better, she loved people.Her name was Kathleen Wells born 8/10/33 , moved to Heaven 4/9/2010 , HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMA.
    Salt on my watermelon,please.

  • Reply
    Leslie
    August 9, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    I don’t care much for salt but I love lime juice on any kind of melon.

  • Reply
    Tamela
    August 9, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    P.S. – I salt when I can but do have to if salt isn’t available

  • Reply
    Tamela
    August 9, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    Watermelon is one of my favorite foods next to a fresh off the tree orange. Our whole family (currently 4 generations) gobble watermelon as long as they are available. The younger ones are given a bowl of slices or sticks of watermelon and sent to the porch to enjoy the hot weather treat. They, and the porch, are then hosed down before they can come back into the house! I’ve always wanted to try to pickle of candy watermelon rind -supposed to be a real treat but I haven’t tried it yet. That would be one way to enjoy it in winter. I’ve also heard of whirring the fresh watermelon in a blender then freezing it, remembering to stir it about every 30 minutes for a couple of hours, then tucking it away for a Christmas treat (maybe that’s a far south thing where Christmas is often warm). Wondering if you or any of your readers have tried watermelon any of these ways. I’d surely appreciate recipes if they have some they’ve been tastily successful with. Happy Watermelon Season!!

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    August 9, 2021 at 11:53 am

    I can verify one can eat so much watermelon they become foundered. Since that was many years ago,I am right back to loving it again. No salt ever on any melons.
    A couple of years ago my younger than me Aunt and I ran across a deal on watermelons. She had just had surgery on her left arm and could not lift. The watermelons were huge and in a big deep bin, so it was left up to me to bend over to pull out the melons. We disagreed on how to pick a melon, as I had heard to pick a melon with a deeper yellow on the white part. She went by the thumping for the sound taught to her by my Grandpa. Well, I kept leaning into that bin and turning the melons to check the yellowing on the bottom, and she kept thumping until we finally made our choices by how bad the cramp in my ribs was. These two ole ladies were laughing like teens by the time we left that store. I do not know if it works or not, but I always leave mine on the porch a day to ripen a bit more.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    August 9, 2021 at 11:13 am

    I like eith salt but eithout is my favorite

  • Reply
    AWGRIFF
    August 9, 2021 at 10:54 am

    There was this man who came to our church when I was a boy. Everyone knows the type. You never said to him come go home with me for dinner unless you really meant it. He would eat you out of house and home. After stuffing himself with dinner we all went out to shade under the apple tree. Papaw got one of his home grown watermelons and we all starting eating watermelon. This man ate so much of it he was hanging over the fence vomiting.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    August 9, 2021 at 10:50 am

    This may seem off the subject, but this morning around 9:30 am, Marolyn found the girls playing Wilson Holler on facebook. We waltzed in the kitchen! I use salt on watermelon and grapefruit.,,

    • Reply
      Pippin baker
      August 9, 2021 at 11:14 pm

      Rooney, that is classic, waltzing in the kitchen .TOO CUTE!!

  • Reply
    AWGRIFF
    August 9, 2021 at 10:36 am

    I love salt on watermelon, it makes it taste sweeter. I don’t salt it as much as I used to, had to cut back on salt. My son’s mother-in-law was here recently and had never heard of salting watermelon. She tried it and liked it.

  • Reply
    Pam
    August 9, 2021 at 10:23 am

    In Vietnam watermelon comes with a small dish with equal amounts of salt and pepper with a wedge of lime. You squeeze the lime over the salt mixture and mix together, then dip your watermelon. Another version of this is the Mexican condiment, Tajin.

  • Reply
    Mohnie
    August 9, 2021 at 9:57 am

    I also love watermelon. It’s one of the things I look forward to having in the summer. My 4 year old granddaughter could eat a nice sized one all on her own. Our garden is in full sun and we usually grow nice watermelons. This year, the groundhogs or “whistle pigs” as they are sometime called in our area have gotten into the garden and have chewed up several of them. Now we have small fences around 4 of them, to try to have some for ourselves, before the summer ends.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    August 9, 2021 at 9:05 am

    Daddy always asked why we wanted a sweet watermelon and then salted it down. The highlight of our summer was to buy a watermelon along the way to our side of the road picnic. Four kids, a watermelon and a baby food jar full of salt in the back of a truck was a sight to see. Grandma would say that if we kept eating so much salt it was going to dry our blood up.
    I am lucky to have great melon ground. The wild turkeys kept digging my plants out this year. I ended up with a few cantaloupes and watermelons but not a single honeydew.

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    August 9, 2021 at 8:30 am

    My family’s favorite watermelon was a Stone Mountain, but I haven’t seen one in ages. They were solid dark green in color. Does anyone know that melon perhaps by another name?

  • Reply
    SusieQ
    August 9, 2021 at 8:26 am

    We love watermelon too ,oh so good …just cut up a big bowlful yesterday …as a kid I would eat so much I’d almost pop …right down the rind . Back then when buying one from a farmers stand , they’d have a plug cut out so you could have a look … I always liked to eat that plug when we got home .Didn’t salt mine , but my husband and many in my family did . Granny pickled the rinds . Never took to them , cause I always went for the pickled beets ❣️Still do ☺️

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 9, 2021 at 8:04 am

    Growing up, salt with tomatoes, watermelon, musk melon, apples etc was just standard operating procedure. Then of course there was the flurry of messaging about just how terrible all that sodium was. Somewhere along in there I reckon I got weaned off salt. Now I rarely think about it one way or the other except I add extra to mashed potatoes and a few other things at the table.

    I have the same kind of luck with growing watermelon or cantaloupe as you do Tipper. I get frustrated with my wife trying to get a good watermelon or cantaloupe. She is like you, always trying to have a good one and failing with store-bought as often as not. So I try to grow them. Has not worked worth a toot. the get no size and some critter or other gets into them. I really ought to use the space for something more productive. Unless my mind changes back, don’t think I’ll try them in 2022.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 9, 2021 at 7:53 am

    I do love watermelon, Tip! I’ve loved it all my life. On a trip home to visit when we lived in Texas we bought a watermelon at a road side stand but had no knive to cut it so we just busted it open and ate with our hands. In my family I was the biggest watermelon eater. I have one in the fridge now. I cut them up and keep them in the fridge till they are gone, just like you do… then buy another one.
    You and I should have a watermelon party, just us and eate all we can!
    PS: I used to salt my watermelon not any more. When I needed to cut down on salt I gave up the salt but not the watermelon!

  • Reply
    Randy
    August 9, 2021 at 7:53 am

    I am like Sue, I put salt on watermelon, oranges, apples and cantaloupe. I will even shake a little black pepper on a slice of cantaloupe when eating it with biscuits and gravy. I have a neighbor that grows a watermelons and other produce to sell. One of the watermelons he grows are called Truck Busters, they will get to be around a hundred pounds or more. I have never tasted one so I don’t know if they taste good. My favorite watermelon is the old time Charleston Gray.

    This same neighbor plants around 35,000 sweet potato plants each year and has them for sale from late Sept. to Dec.

    I

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    August 9, 2021 at 7:43 am

    Regarding middle of the winter watermelon….why we had that in Bryson City almost a century ago:

    http://www.diagsol.com/Photos/Bennett/Tuckasegee_Watermelon.pdf

    • Reply
      Tipper
      August 9, 2021 at 7:59 am

      Don-what a great photo!!

    • Reply
      Margie G
      August 9, 2021 at 8:32 am

      The way you ate watermelon as a child is the way we used to eat it too. The watermelon in a cold creek is too delish!!! Nowadays I’m the watermelon eater cause my daughters are ex pats in Mexico and the hubby likes cantaloupe and not watermelon while I roll the exact opposite. One IS the loneliest number that you’ll ever do…..lol. I LOVED THE ARCHIVAL WATERMELON IN WINTER PHOTO!

  • Reply
    dana
    August 9, 2021 at 7:00 am

    I like salty with watermelon and make the feta watermelon salad with mint. Some folks add olives too. I know it sounds weird, but its very good.

    • Reply
      EJ
      August 9, 2021 at 8:21 am
  • Reply
    Don Byers
    August 9, 2021 at 6:29 am

    No salt for me…..but when I was a kid lots of people put salt on watermelon.

  • Reply
    Sue W.
    August 9, 2021 at 6:08 am

    Of COURSE you put salt on watermelon! It enhances the sweetness! I also put salt on cantaloupe, oranges and apples.

    • Reply
      Sanford McKinney
      August 9, 2021 at 7:28 am

      DITTO!

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