Graced with No Waste

Don’t you love the idea of being able to use all of something? 

My friend, Karen at and I have been talking about our relatives who survived the Great Depression and how they learned to use nearly everything they had. 

For instance, my grandparents had gardens, fruit trees and fruit bushes. Anything with a berry on it was fair game. 

I remember picking gooseberries with grandma. Have you ever had gooseberries? Woo! They are sour! But, with lots of sugar, they make a good pie. 

At the end of summer, their cellars were always packed with the fruits and vegetables they “put up” (canned) to eat during the winter. 

A look at any old cookbook will reveal lots of pickle type recipes such as: 

  • Beet pickles 
  • Bread and Butter pickles
  • Dills
  • Refrigerator pickles
  • Sweet pickles
  • Freezer corn
  • Lime pickles 
  • Relishes

Karen mentioned wishing she had her great grandmother’s Watermelon Pickles recipe. I have my grandma’s recipe, so I thought it’d be fun to share it. 

Watermelon Pickles: 

1 gallon white part of melon

2 cups cider vinegar 

1 TBS whole cloves

1 TBS cinnamon 

5 cups sugar 

1 cup water

1 TBS whole allspice 

Brine: 1 quart water and 1/4 cup salt

Cut melon in cubes and let stand overnight in salted water (brine). Drain. Cover with fresh cold water, bring to boil and cook over low heat til tender. Drain. 

Combine ingredients above and boil 5 minutes. Add melon cubes and simmer til transparent. Pour in sterilized hot jars and seal. 

I haven’t tried this recipe yet. So, as long as the rabbits don’t eat all of my melons, I hope to make some watermelon pickles later on this summer. 

I’m going to take a cue from generations past and instead of filling my trash can with all the watermelon rinds, I’d love to live like they did and be graced with no waste. 

23 thoughts on “Graced with No Waste

  1. Watermelon pickles!! Sounds intriguing – let us know how you get on. I agree though, it was a wonder how much fruit was made into jams etc. My grandmother (and later my grandfather) every year would make litres of pears for the winter. Cooking the pears from their two giant trees in water and adding a ton (or so it seemed!) of sugar. Delicious!! Especially when warmed slightly after the freezer and added to vanilla ice-cream. Oh, I’m sad now…haven’t had any of that for years..

    • Oh my gosh, Annika! Those pears sound dreamy! Yum! Especially over ice cream. I’m sad, you’re sad. Maybe someone has the recipe?

      I bet you’re right about the sugar. Seems like I remember a lot of sugar in the old recipes. As my mom always says, everything in moderation. I’m betting they didn’t sit down and eat a whole jar by themselves at once. Probably made it last. Less sugar at once! Ha!

  2. Thank you, Jess, for the recipe! I can hardly wait to try this (and sooo wish I had my great grandmother Orah’s recipe). I can still recall how they looked. Such a treat! My father always spoke of how they had no choice, that they could not waste anything. It’s a better way to live, honestly. Are those your canning jars? Lovely photo! :)

    • I wish you had Orah’s recipe, too! So you could share with me!! :) Wish I could’ve met your dad. Bet he had some great lessons.

      The jars are my other grandma’s (Wilma). There’s a cellar type room in her basement. It was one of those doors we were afraid to open when we were kids. One of those creepy “what’s in THERE” rooms!

      All grown up, it’s just a cinder block room for canned goods. :)

      • Hard to believe dad’s been gone now 10 years; does not seem possible. He’s with me; I can tell. :) Oh, that room sounds heavenly! I wish I had one for my canned goods (not that I have that many, lol). But, I love the idea. And, I hold out a smidgen of hope to find Orah’s recipe. I have not yet read all of her letters; most, but not all. If I find it, you’ll hear me hollering way over here. :)

  3. Watermelon pickles, wow, sounds really different. I grew up in a backyard with loads of fruit trees … peach, apple, nectarine, fig, pear, orange, lemon, a garden bed filled with strawberries (and lots of other vegetables but I was mainly interested in picking the strawberries!) I have so many happy memories of mum baking in the kitchen from all the produce she collected. :)

    I never knew my grandparents so I can only imagine how wonderful it must be to have all those recipes handed down. :)

    • Wow Miri! You had all those trees plus strawberries? Yum! I love hearing about your mum baking. Tell me more! :)

      You never knew your grandparents? I’ll share my recipes with you if you like. :)

      • Yeah, and dad used to make wine from the grapes that grew on our fence. So many awesome memories :)
        But not of my grandparents unfortunately. Both sets lived in Italy and died before I was born. So I will happily enjoy any recipes you share :)

  4. Canning is an art my grandmother did, and I still remember looking at the mason jars full of jam in her garage when I was a child. Someday I will take up the art of canning, just for the fun of it!

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