Next time when you eat watermelon, don’t throw away the rind! The firm white part of the fruit is totally edible. With a few condiments, you can turn it into SUPER addicting and incredibly delicious Pickled Watermelon Rind. Trust me on this!
One of the fun recipe experiments I did recently was to turn watermelon rind into pickles. Yes, the white part right underneath the green skin of the watermelon. Once pickled, it is sweet, crunchy, and very addicting. My whole family is blown away by how amazing Pickled Watermelon Rind (スイカの漬物) tastes. And now we feel like we are enjoying the entire watermelon without waste.
Is Watermelon Rind Edible?
Everyone in my family is crazy about watermelon. They would devour the fruit regardless of the flavors, but I on the other hand, only like my watermelon when it’s really sweet, like pure sugar. I will only eat the red flesh and not touch any part that is 1/2-inch closer to the rind. Call me spoiled!
So when a few Just One Cookbook readers reached out to me this summer and asked about the Pickled Watermelon Rind recipe, I was intrigued. Who would eat the rind?! But they’ve got my attention. I had to check it out myself and discovered the whole new ways of eating watermelon rind.
The pickled watermelon rind turned out to be one of the most delicious things. I am still shocked that I had missed out on such a delightful dish for 4 decades of my life! It also has taught me to appreciate some of the lesser appreciated parts of fruits and vegetables.
Benefits of Watermelon (Rind and All)
Watermelon is great for hydration since it is 90 percent water, which makes it low in calories; only 49 calories per cup. Combined with the amount of fiber it has, the fruit is a great snack when you don’t have much appetite during the hot and humid summer months.
Did you know watermelon, rind and all, helps reduce blood pressure? Another benefit of watermelon is that it’s a rich source of fiber, which aids in digestion. It fills up your tummy and reduces the risk of developing diseases of the colon.
In short, watermelon including rind is good for you, and you save some compost/garbage space by enjoying the delicious watermelon rind.
How to Pickle Watermelon Rind
This recipe is ridiculously simple. All you need to do is to cut the rind into the same size and shape, pickle/marinate in the seasonings overnight, and it’s ready to eat.
I’ve tried a few variations for the pickling solutions, but I’m sharing what my family enjoyed most. It only requires:
- Rice vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- Sesame seeds
Feel free to play around with the ratio so you don’t get bored with the same flavor. Even just rice vinegar and sugar make delicious pickles.
I learned that pickled watermelon rind is also popular in the Southern region of the US. However, it is quite different to how we would make the pickles in Japan. The Japanese version uses a simple method and relies on just a few basic seasonings for the pickling marinade. If you’ve been making pickled watermelon rind for a long time, I hope you give this one a try too!
3 Tips to Make Good Pickled Watermelon Rind
1. Include small parts of the red flesh.
When you serve the watermelon for eating, keep some red parts attached to the rind. They add really nice natural sweetness to the pickles!
2. Cut the rind into a similar size and shape.
It’s a basic cooking tip and applies just the same to the pickle recipe. It’s important that each piece should take up the same amount of pickling time. This will solve the equation and even taste.
3. Use a plastic bag for even pickling.
Normally, I’m not in favor of using a plastic bag and try to use a glass container or mason jars to pickle. However, considering that you will be cutting quarter, half or whole watermelon at once, it makes the pickling much easier when you use a resealable plastic bag. You won’t end up with so many mason jars, and you would need much less amount of condiments for the recipe.
Also, with the plastic bag, you can rub the watermelon rind and pickle solution easily, and evenly distribute all around the rind, which makes better pickles. I usually flip the bag every few hours.
Best Way to Enjoy Pickled Watermelon Rind
I’ve been serving the pickled watermelon rind as a side to complement rice or a dinner meal. I think it would also make a great beer snack, just like edamame! The thought of it is enough to make me drool.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
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Pickled Watermelon Rind
- 4.5 lb watermelon (roughly ¼ watermelon)
- 4 Tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp roasted sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
- 1 knob ginger (Optional: I occasionally add julienned ginger and it's delicious if you like the ginger taste)
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Separate Watermelon Flesh and Rind
- Cut the watermelon into 1-inch slices. Then cut each watermelon slice into 1-inch sticks.
- Cut each of the watermelon stick crosswise so the watermelon is 1-inch cubes. Tip: To add natural sweetness, I like to keep a little bit of red flesh attach to the white/green rind of the fruit.
- Cut the rind into 1-inch thick sticks, too. We now have 8 cups (1034 g or 2.3 lb) of the watermelon rind with skin.
To Cut Watermelon Rind
- Remove the tough dark green rind.
- Cut the watermelon rind into the same size and shape for optimal pickling. For this batch, I used thin slices, but you can make it into cubes or other shapes. We now have 6 cups (803 g or 1.8 lb) of the watermelon rind without skin.
To Pickle Watermelon Rind
- Put the rind in a resealable bag (see the reason why I use a plastic bag in the blog post).
- Let it pickled in the refrigerator at least overnight before serving.
To Serve and Store
- Enjoy within 3-4 days. The flavor will get stronger, if you keep the pickle solutions in the bag. It's up to you if you want to take out the rind and save in another container (discard the solution).