Pear Preserves

Now that pears are on the verge of ripeness, it’s time to put some up for baking and spooning atop those buttermilk biscuits you make on Sunday mornings. This recipe provides you with firm chunks of pear in a simple syrup that will keep just fine without processing for weeks and weeks if jars and lids are sterile and the syrup hot. For two quarts peeled, sliced, very firm pears, use a quart of sugar, and enough water to cover by an inch. Add lemon juice, if you like; ginger is a nice touch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until syrup thickens. While hot, ladle into hot sterile jars, cover loosely, and cool a bit before sealing.

Yellow-Meated Watermelons

While working in a Florida restaurant, I kept having trouble ordering a yellow-meated watermelon from my produce guy. He said he could never find one, even though I’d seen them in local markets. Finally it came out that with my heavy hill country Mississippi accent he thought I was ordering a melon from some mythical locale in California: “Jala Meadad”. He even wrote it down that way on his order forms.

While yellow-meated watermelons aren’t widely known, early texts written by European botanists have been uncovered depicting images and descriptions of watermelons of various shapes and sizes as well as varying flesh colors of red, white, yellow and orange. In fact, the original watermelon that grew wild in South Africa was most likely a yellow or white flesh variety, but lacked the high sugar levels of today’s watermelons.

Here in the Deep South the yellow-meat season is very short; you’ll rarely find them marketed before July or after August, and you’ll almost never find them sold in supermarkets, usually only at roadside produce stands. Yellow watermelons can vary greatly in size, shape and color; the most common variety here in Mississippi has broad dark green stripes and narrow light green ones, though over in Clay County, Alabama, where they have the Clay County Yellow Meated Watermelon Festival, the eponymous variety is an almost uniform light green. The flesh can range from pale yellow to deep gold and may contain large brownish black seeds or be completely seedless. While their succulent and crisp texture is comparable to red watermelons, their flavor is usually much sweeter offering notes of honey and apricot.