What is a watermelon? It’s a large fruit, or more accurately, a berry with tough outer skin. But even more precisely, it’s a pepo. This is how berries with hard rind are called from a botanical perspective. By the way, the rind is the most overlooked part of the fruit. We all know how we like our watermelon, but green rind, it is often discarded, isn’t it? But it can be kept because there is actually a lot that you can do with it: from spicy curries to sweet treats. It can be pickled, stir-fried, candied, or even juiced.
Consider pickling. Take 4-5 cups of water, heat it in a large pot with 1 Tbsp of salt until boiling, add 2 cups of watermelon’s rind (cut into small rectangular pieces) and keep it there until tender. Then transfer rinds to a bowl and put aside. In a separate pan combine 150 g / ¾ cup of sugar with 120 gr / ½ cup of vinegar, 4 peppercorns and 4 cloves, 2 allspice berries, 1 cinnamon stick and a few berries of black pepper. Bring to a boil, let the sugar dissolve, simmer for 12-15 minutes. Now transfer the rinds to a glass jar and pour your pickling liquid over. Put something on top to keep everything submerged. It can be a special fermentation weight, a plastic ziplock bag filled with water, or a simple cabbage leaf that hides everything and keeps everything covered this way. Place the rinds in a fridge and let it pickle for a couple of days for the best result. You want all the flavours to permeate into the watermelon before consuming it. The good news is that the final product could turn out to be rather sweet, not only sour.
You can eat the rinds right from the jar as a snack, cut and add them to salads or cheese platters, use as a garnish in cocktails. Or go all-in, wrap the rinds in bacon and bake them in the 180˚C / 350 ˚F oven until crispy. This appetizer will definitely be a highlight of the evening.
Another great alternative for the rinds is a quick juicing. We don’t usually think about this option because rinds are tough, right? But their moisture content is still very high – around 94%! Take some 2-3 cups of rinds, cut into small chunks and toss in a blender with a little bit of water and a sprig of mint. Blend on high speed for a couple of minutes, stopping and scraping the pulp from the walls along the way. Then sieve and collect the juice. Add 6-9 tsp of sugar, a pinch of salt, juice from half a lemon. Stir well, pour into glasses, add some ice cubes, and enjoy your watermelonade!