A Piece From the Heart

How to cut a watermelon so that everyone gets a piece of the heart mjskitchen.com


August 3 is National Watermelon Day.  So what a better time to talk about one of my most favorite fruits, second only to the peach. Watermelon has been a huge part of my life as long as I can remember.  It’s been more than just a delicious dessert or a snack. It was a source of income when I was a kid and the focus of large family gatherings during watermelon season.  My granddaddy taught me how to eat a watermelon the right way and my mother taught me ways to save the ones that weren’t sweet enough to eat and how to preserve the rind.

MJ's GranddayI can’t eat watermelon without thinking of my granddaddy.  He was a hardworking farmer in north Louisiana.  He and my grandmother raised six kids in the same house in which he was raised.  His fields were behind the house. The horses, cows and pigs were on one side of the house, and the chickens and outhouse on the other side.  He lived off the land and raised most everything his family ate.

Granddaddy grew A LOT of watermelon.  During watermelon season we would take the stationwagon to the country and fill it up.  Once back home, my brother and I would set up a watermelon stand on the curb and sell them for 25 cents a melon – satisfaction guaranteed!!! Very few people asked for their quarter back.

So how do you eat a watermelon?  According to my granddaddy, everyone gets one-half of a melon.  You eat the heart, and once you get to the seeds (watermelons had big black seeds back then), the rest of the melon gets fed to the pigs. Seriously!  He would literally walk around the porch while we were eating and once the heart of the melon was gone, he would take the melon away from you and throw it to the pigs.  My mother on the other hand, taught us that a watermelon is good all the way to the rind.  Then, if the rind is thick enough, you slice it up for watermelon rind preserves.  Through the years I have learned how to use even the thinnest of rinds to make my Watermelon Rind Candies.


How to cut a watermelon so that everyone gets a piece of the heart mjskitchen.com


How to cut a watermelon

Whether a watermelon has seeds or not, it has a heart.  The heart is the sweetest part and it is the seedless part right in the middle.  Therefore, it is very important that everyone gets a piece from the heart; so, to be kind to your guests, cut your watermelon into wedges.

Cut the melon in half lengthwise.
Cut each half in half across the width so you have 4 pieces.
Depending on how many people you are serving, cut each quarter lengthwise in half or into 4 or more long pieces.
Sprinkle each wedge with a touch of salt and serve.

If you’re like me, you’ll eat all around the heart, then save the best bite for last. 🙂

Aren’t you craving for a piece of watermelon right now?


watermelon rind made into candy bites


Watermelon Rind Candies




Watermelon juice with mint and lime


Watermelon Coolers




A cool and refreshing watermelon salad with preserved lemon, mint and olives @mjskitchen #watermelon #preserved #lemon

Watermelon Salad with Preserved Lemons




This watermelon post has been shared with the following blog hops.  Be sure to click on the links for more delicious recipes!

Whole Foods Wednesday, Freaky Friday, Hearth and Soul, Foodie Friday

This post was feature on the Hearth & Soul Blog Hop at Zesty South Indian Kitchen.


62 Responses to “A Piece From the Heart”

  1. Swathi August 20, 2012 at 6:19 pm #


    Great write up , liked the way you shared your memories. Thanks for sharing with Hearth and Soul blog hop. Yes this post is highlighted on today’s Hearth and Soul blog hop.

  2. magicofspice August 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    What a fantastic post MJ, I never knew that pigs ate watermelon 🙂 And wonderful tips on preparing these summer beauties!

  3. April @ The 21st Century Housewife August 19, 2012 at 4:27 am #

    I really enjoyed this post. It was lovely to learn more about your childhood and your family. I didn’t know about the heart of the watermelon being the sweetest, and I’ve never had it sprinkled with salt, but I bet it really brings out the flavour!

  4. Diane Balch August 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    I love your granddad and his advice for eating watermelon. Is it me but I think the watermelons that have seeds taste better? They sure were more fun for spitting contests.

    • mj August 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      Thanks Diane! I do agree! Watermelon, especially the seedless, are as sweet as I remember. You had seed spitting contest too? Actually, they weren’t contest – we would just spit seeds at each other. 🙂

  5. Jayne August 17, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    What a lovely post! I loved reading about your Grandfather. 25 cents a melon now that was a good deal! I love watermelon, it’s the only melon I do like. I’ve never tried pickled rind though!

    • mj August 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      Thanks Jayne! One day I’ll post a watermelon rind recipe for you. 🙂

  6. vianney August 16, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Thank you for sharing this part of your family with us. El corazon de la sandia, our dad would always tell us that this was the best part of the watermekon and made sure to give us kids each a piece. i love to have my slice with a sprinkle of salt. ~yummy~

  7. kristy @ coconutmama August 9, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    Gotta love granddaddies!! My youngest daughter would totally agree with your granddaddy!

  8. Biren @ Roti n Rice August 8, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Yes, I am craving for a piece of watermelon right now. I had my share of watermelon when I was a kid and they had those black seeds. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the lovely story of your granddad. You must miss him very much. I am also curious as to what the preserve rind taste like.

  9. wok with ray August 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    Your Granddaddy must be a very wise and practical man. Yes, I remember people back in the old days when I was growing up used to collect the rinds and other leftover food to feed the pigs and why not? That watermelon looks very refreshing and beautifully shot. Thank you, MJ!

  10. Suzi August 8, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    Oh MJ, what a lovely story. I love love watermelon and your photo looks fantastic. I remember them also as a kid having big black seeds. We usedto grow them in the back yard. Thanks for reminding me of childhood memeories. Have a great week.

  11. Treat and Trick August 8, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    That’s such a fond memories of your grandpa and this beautiful fruit! I love to eat this juicy fruit without salt..

  12. Javelin Warrior August 7, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    I loved learning more about you in this post, MJ – and really enjoyed the story about your grandfather snatching away the watermelon pieces to feed them to the pigs 😉 I honestly never gave much thought to how to cut a watermelon, but now I will… And doubt I’ll ever forget either 🙂 And speaking of peaches, I thought of you specifically today while baking a peach pie…

    • mj August 7, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

      That’s very sweet! So are you shipping me that peach pie? 🙂 Thanks my friend for your nice comments!

  13. mj August 7, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Thanks everyone for your lovely comments!!! I find it very interesting how many people don’t know about the heart of a watermelon, but then how many of us grew up around a huge field of watermelon and went out and picked them ourselves? Next time you cut open a watermelon, do a taste test and see if you can taste the difference between the meat from the heart and the rest of the melon. I think you’ll be surprised. 🙂 Have a wonderful week everyone and thanks again!

  14. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles August 7, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    I love when a particular food or fragrance reminds us of a special person in our lives. This is a beautiful, touching piece enhanced by your engaging writing and lovely photos MJ. I really enjoyed reading it. Plus, I just happen to adore watermelon! 🙂 -Thanks for all the great tips.

  15. Soni August 6, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Lovely story about your grandpa.I’m craving for some watermelon right now :)One fruit apart from Mango for me that says Summer!!

  16. Cucina49 August 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    I am indeed now craving watermelon! What a great photo of your grandfather, and a great story.

  17. Maureen August 6, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    It would be tough for me to choose which I loved more.. watermelon or mango but I think it’s a dead heat.

    Lovely post!

  18. Raymund August 6, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    Yes I am and you started my craving 🙂

  19. Baker Street August 6, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    What a great tribute to your granddaddy, MJ! Such sweet memories.

  20. kitchenriffs August 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    Really nice post. I always love hearing about people’s families and their backgrounds. I never actually knew that watermelon had a heart. We eat a lot of watermelon (at least two a week at this time of the year – it’s our breakfast staple) but I usually chunk the watermelon flesh into cubes, then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The upside is it’s easy to get some watermelon any time we want (it’s also a great snack). The downside – I now realize – is we have a distribution problem with the heart! Some of the cubes are all heart, others have none! Great post – thanks.

  21. Sylvia August 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    Lovely story of your grandfather!
    I love eating refreshing cold watermelons especially when it’s hot outside. Recently, I came across a watermelon curry recipe! How interesting is that? Have you made that before?

    • mj August 7, 2012 at 8:40 am #

      Thanks Syliva! Watermelon curry – never heard of it! I would love to see the recipe. Please send me the link if you get the chance.

  22. Anne@FromMySweetHeart August 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Oh MJ! I love this post on so many levels! It’s one of the loveliest I’ve read in a long time! A great tribute to your grandfather! We ate watermelons often in the summer. But my dad just sliced them and then cut them into wedges so we would be eating a kind of triangular piece. We ate it right down to the rind, spitting out the seeds as we go! But I LOVE your suggestion of cutting it so that each guest has a piece of the heart! : )

    • mj August 7, 2012 at 8:39 am #

      Thanks Anne! I’m finding it interesting the different ways that people cut and eat watermelon and that many didn’t realize there is a heart. It’s funny the things we learn as kids and stick with us as “important”. 🙂

  23. Michelle @ Find Your Balance August 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    What a lovely story, and no I didn’t know watermelons have a heart!

  24. Michelle @ Simplify, Live, Love August 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    I love this post, MJ! How sweet and what a wonderful picture of, and tribute to, your granddaddy. And your grammar is superb! 😉

    I don’t like watermelon that much, but maybe I have been eating them wrong all this time.

    • mj August 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

      Thanks Michelle!! 🙂 I can’t imagine anyone not liking watermelon, so I think you’re just not getting good ones nor eating them right. 🙂

  25. Asmita August 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    This is such a beautiful post!
    The watermelon shots look beautiful. Really craving it right now.

  26. Charles August 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    Hi MJ – nice – tips from a pro! Tell me, once you get a half melon, what is the correct way to eat the heart? Does one just go nuts and dive in face first, or is there a more tidy trick to it? I loved reading this little piece of history – I love the idea of growing things which are so big too. The idea that something so enormous, sweet and beautiful too can be grown from such an itty bitty seed is always fascinating to me. To have whole fields full must be heaven!

    • mj August 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

      🙂 🙂 You’re so cute Charles! Actually, give me a big wedge and I dive in face first! 🙂

  27. Sissi August 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Of course now I’m craving for watermelon! It’s too late to get any (although I could run to the shop which is open all night, I saw they have watermelons…). I love watermelon, but my French family doesn’t care for it. They call it tasteless, similar to cucumber etc.. In France orange melons are the most appreciated and watermelons are rare on markets (luckily I live in Switzerland close to France so I can have both because here watermelon is more appreciated), but for me orange melons are too sweet and too strong in taste to be eaten as often as watermelon which has such a sophisticated, delicate aroma and is so refreshing…
    Strangely I prefer the watermelons which are not too sweet. I love your salt addition idea.
    Thank you for sharing your family story.

    • mj August 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

      Thanks Sissi! It’s hard to imagine anyone calling watermelon tasteless! 🙂 But we do all have different tastes. I’m with you – I prefer the red melons to the yellow ones, but I do like them sweet regardless. 🙂

  28. Zsuzsa August 4, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Thanks for sharing this story.

  29. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) August 4, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    I love this story!

  30. Angie@Angie's Recipes August 4, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    A lovely story of your grandpa.
    I had some juicy watermelon today too. Love these clicks.

  31. Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen August 4, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Yes, craving watermelon right now. I love it but never paused long enough to notice it’s got a heart. I eat it pips and all. Deeeeeeeelicious!

  32. love2dine August 4, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    thanks for sharing the story with us.

  33. Nami | Just One Cookbook August 4, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    Beautiful story of your grandpa. I lost my grandpa last week and this post brought my memory of him and watermelon too. I spent the summer together with him growing up,and we often ate watermelon in the yard after working on his garden. It was hot and humid so cold watermelon was a treat. We sprinkle salt too. Such a great memory… Thanks for sharing how to cut the watermelon. And how lucky the piggy could eat the leftover. 🙂 I was “spoiled” so I left a big chunk of red part, while my brother ate until the watermelon skin was so thin. haha. Thanks for the story and have a great weekend!

    • mj August 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      thanks you Nami! I’m so sorry to read about your grandpa. Since he was a watermelon lover as well and you have watermelon memories with him, we’ll dedicate this post to both of our grandfathers! What great men!

  34. peachkins August 4, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    I love sprinkling salt or drizzling honey on my watermelon….

  35. Laura @ Stealthy Mom August 3, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    What a beautiful tribute you your granddaddy. If only more kids had such wonderful life lessons. Thank you.

  36. Sanjeeta kk August 3, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    One of my favorite fruits..I could eat one whole watermelon all by myself 🙂 Love to just slice it and dig in…and if I am not able to dig anymore, I blend it and drink it 🙂
    Like to read about your grandparents and their farming experience.

  37. Valerie @ From Valerie's Kitchen August 3, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    What a lovely story MJ. I enjoyed every word of it 🙂

  38. Debra August 3, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    What a great story. Where did grandpappy stand on salt? Mine had to have it and pepper on his cantaloupes. I love reading nostalgic stories associated with food.

    • mj August 3, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

      Thanks! Actually granddaddy didn’t use salt, but I do. I learned it from my mother.

  39. Ramona August 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    What lovely food memories my friend!! I love hearing about family history and your grandfather throwing the melon to the pigs.. I bet that made them happy too. 🙂 Watermelon season is always wonderful for me too…. watermelon simply says “summer” to me. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend! ~ Ramona

  40. Rathai August 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    Loved reading this post! I actually have a small piece of watermelon sitting in the fridge and although it’s 1 am, this post makes me want to go and get it and sink my teeth into that sweet flesh right now.

  41. ChgoJohn August 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Watermelon 101. As much as I love fruits and berries, watermelon means Summer to me more than all others combined. There’s nothing like that first bite of melon each year. Nothing comes close.

    • mj August 3, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

      Totally agree!!!!

  42. Jane August 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    I am craving watermelon! Gorgeous pictures, and great memories!

  43. Choc Chip Uru August 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    Sweet memories with a sweet fruit my friend, happy watermelon day to you too 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  44. Tessa August 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    Yep… craving watermelon! Beautiful photos MJ!

  45. Michelle August 3, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Great post. Very sweet memories you have about watermelon. My MIL serves watermelon with salt too. (And cantaloupe with black pepper!).

    • mj August 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

      Thanks! I use both salt and pepper on cantaloupe sometimes. I prefer salt but if I put it in a salad, the pepper works as well.

  46. CJ at Food Stories August 3, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    I am craving watermelon right now. So excited you posted this on watermelon day. I was hoping to do something but didn’t make it to the store in time … Happy Friday 🙂


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