Pickles

Fermented Watermelon Rind Pickles | Family Cuisine

Fermented Watermelon Rind Pickles are a traditional summertime favorite. These pickles are made from watermelon rind, which ferments in salt and sugar for a few days to create an amazing flavor that is tangy and sweet

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Fermented Watermelon Rind Pickles | Family Cuisine

Updated 07/14/18

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Why have I never made these until now? Crunchy, sour, fermented watermelon rind pickles:

  • Are easy to make
  • Taste delicious
  • Contain good microbes, which improve your health
  • Cost basically nothing (you bought the melon for the fruit after all)
  • Reduce waste

I feel like a character in 1984, the Cookbook. Instead of Big Brother destroying language and meaning so people can no longer express themselves (or protest), Big Food has destroyed our self-reliance and turned us into zombie-consumers heading to the supermarket to fulfill our every need—or even worse, the convenience store for the 26 million Americans living in food deserts.

Of course, I know I don’t speak for everyone. I read the blogs of all you homesteader-types out there, growing heirloom tomatoes from seeds your found at your local seed library, transforming your yards to duck paradises or curing hams from pigs you raised yourself. But I think I can safely say that the majority of us eating the Western (sadly, now global) diet have lost a lot of knowledge about food—where it comes from, how to grow it and how to prepare it. We need to bring back home-ec in every public school, for boys and girls (hey, it could happen!).

1 ingredients

Ingredients

  • Rind from a watermelon
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt (avoid table salt as it is devoid of the minerals lacto bacteria love)
  • 4 cups filtered tap water (let it sit for at least a few hours to dissipate the chlorine if your municipal tap water is highly chlorinated)
  • Whey (optional)
  • Mustard seed, dill seed and/or caraway seed (optional)

I highly recommend adding fresh dill and several cloves of garlic to these.

Directions

2 watermelon eighths

3 peeled watermelon quarter

I tried cutting the watermelon a couple of different ways. Working with a large chunk of melon takes less time than than working with little slices of rind.

5 watermelon slices

However, I always cut up my watermelons as in the above picture. If you have watermelon rinds on your hands, they will probably have started out as slices. Either way works.

4 rind and fruit

1. Cut the fruit from the rind. Eat. Peel the dark green skin from the watermelon rinds. Cut the rinds into 1-inch squares.

2. If you’re adding fresh dill and garlic and other spices, place them in the bottom of a large jar.

8 combine ingredients

3. Place the rinds, salt and water in the jar. You want the water to cover the watermelon rinds by an inch or two. For every four cups of water, add a tablespoons of kosher salt. You may need less water. My rinds were pretty thin and small so four cups was a bit too much.

The vegetables have enough microbes on them to ferment spontaneously but if you want to kickstart your ferment, toss in some whey. I grew impatient after a few days with my ferment’s slow progress (probably due to too much water), so I poured in a tablespoon or so. If you make yogurt to avoid plastic, or you buy cultured yogurt, strain a little through a cheesecloth-lined coffee filter to render whey.

6 brain surgery

7 watermelon weight

9 place makeshift lid

10 weight

4. These rinds float directly to the top of the water. When you ferment food, to prevent mold from growing, completely submerge the vegetables in the salty water. If mold does grow, simply scrape it off and compost the top layer of vegetables. Your ferment will be fine. Bad microbes cannot live in the acidic environment of a lacto-bacteria (LAB) culture. And you need not worry about botulism. That only occasionally happens as a result of improper canning, the antithesis of fermentation. Botulism spores cannot survive in a LAB culture. (Go to Sandor Katz’s website for more info.)

So, I made a neat little tight-fitting makeshift “cap” from the end of the watermelon, scooped out the flesh, halved it and stuffed it into the jar to keep the rinds submerged. (I felt like a brain surgeon.) I removed the heavy lid from another glass jar and placed it on the watermelon cap to keep everything weighed down. Then I put a jar on top of this so it wouldn’t shift.

11 sealed jar
My Yarmulke-shaped watermelon lid, topped by a glass jar lid as a weight, topped with a Mason jar keeps everything submerged. I actually have too much water in here. Cover fermenting vegetables with water by about an inch.

5. Set your jar aside in a cool spot for a few days. You may have to burp it, which means opening the lid daily to allow built-up carbon dioxide to escape (and thus avoid a possible explosion). You’ll automatically do this when you taste the rinds daily. Once they have pickled to your liking, move the jar into the refrigerator to retard the fermentation. You may like them after one day. I prefer my ferments quite sour. I let these sit for five days and they taste pretty yummy.

12 ready to eat
My pickles on day five

Fermented Watermelon Rind Pickles

Ingredients

  • Rind from 1 watermelon
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
  • 4 cups filtered tap water
  • 2 tablespoons whey (optional)
  • Mustard seed, dill seed and/or caraway seed (optional)

I highly recommend adding fresh dill and several cloves of garlic to these.

Directions

1. Peel the dark green skin from the watermelon rinds. Cut the rinds into 1-inch squares.

2. If you’re adding fresh dill and garlic and other spices, place them in the bottom of a large jar.

3. Place rinds, salt, water and, if using, whey in the jar. Weigh down the vegetables with a large piece of watermelon rind, a leaf of cabbage, a glass weight or whatever else you have on hand.

4. Set your jar aside in a cool spot for a few days. Open the lid daily to allow built-up air to escape.

5. Taste the rinds daily. When they have pickled to your liking, move the jar into the refrigerator to retard the fermentation. This may take as little as a day or as long as a week, depending on your taste preference.

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