Watermelon rind is food too

Watermelon rind has it tough. It lives next to sweet, pink, refreshing fruit that can be eaten as is, or easily become the base of colorful drinks, salsas, granitas and soups. How many of us even acknowledge rind as food? How many of us stop eating when we reach the unsexy, white, flavorless stuff? How many rinds end their lives needlessly in landfill?

Too many to contemplate.

But watermelon rind is food too, and there’s no reason to throw it away, or even compost anything but the hard, dark green skin (less than a millimeter thick). Although the rind is not as flavorful as the rest of the fruit, it is slightly sweet and has a firm, crisp texture that holds up well to cooking. It can be incorporated into the aforementioned drinks, salsas, granitas and soups — but also does well on it’s own in both sweet and savory concoctions.

Watermelon rind chutney

Take that, sexy, pink, attention-grabbing watermelon flesh

I’ve been in the mood for Indian food lately, so when I found myself with 10 cups of watermelon rind earlier this week (harvested from a 7 pound watermelon), I decided to use it to make chutney. The recipe is below, and the result is a spicy, sweet, sour, aromatic condiment that makes a perfect accompaniment to Indian food, meat dishes or strong cheeses.

Watermelon Rind Chutney

Ingredients

Cubed watermelon rind

Cubed watermelon rind

  • 10 cups watermelon rind, diced in ¾ inch cubes with dark green skin removed
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 2 serrano peppers with seeds, minced
  • ½ cup ginger, skinned and coarsely chopped
  • 1½ Tbsp garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 
½ tsp cardamom
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • ¼ tsp powdered cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1½ cups sugar

Directions

  • Place watermelon rind, raisins, serrano peppers, ginger, garlic, red pepper, cinnamon powder, cardamom, ginger powder, powdered cloves, salt and half of the vinegar in a large pot.
  • Add enough water to just cover the fruit, and give everything a good stir.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to low.
  • Cook on low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the rinds take on a translucent quality.
  • Add in the rest of the vinegar, the lime juice and the sugar, and stir until sugar dissolves.
  • Bring the liquid to a gentle boil, and, stirring frequently, continue to boil until the liquid has the consistency of jam.
  • Put the chutney in a sterilized jar.

This chutney will stay fresh for several months in the refrigerator.

Fun facts
Reduction in food waste per batch of chutney 10 cups
… and if every household in the US makes 1 batch Over 9.6 million cubic feet
Volume of the Washington Monument About 1 million cubic feet
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22 thoughts on “Watermelon rind is food too

  1. Wow like the recipe, maybe Livvey and I could make a video of us making it. Looks like fun. The only part I am not crazy about is all the sugar. Do you think it would sweeten up enough if we used some of the watermelon?

    • The nice thing about chutney is that there’s a lot of room to play. If you want a sweet chutney, you could use watermelon juice or another juice instead of water or use more dried fruit — alternatively, you could just make this less sweet and kick up the spiciness with more ginger or chilies, or the sourness with lime. Let me know how it works out, and if you make that video.

    • I’ve never tried those — but watermelon rind pickles sound really interesting (slightly spicy ones, perhaps). Will have to experiment with the next watermelon.

  2. This is so cool! I actually really like the white bit after having the pink bit – it’s almost a bit of a palate cleanser! My Dad goes a bit far by julienning the rinds with the dark green bits still on though and putting them in stir fries.

    LOVE the concept of this blog by the way. I have found a stallholder at my local market who sells broccoli with the leaves still attached to the stem. Apparently they are actually healthier, yet most people never get to eat them. The stalks are pretty tough but the leaves are just like kale.

    • Thanks, Zo — I’m guessing your father juliennes those rinds pretty finely, or has really strong teeth. Still, I do like that stir fry idea. Looks like we’ll be eating a lot of watermelon this summer, so I can try all these things out.

      Broccoli rarely passes out threshold, thanks to the fact that several people at Bonnie Lee’s office were on some kind of long term broccoli diet, and she developed a serious aversion to the smell of it cooking. If she ever gets over that, will look for the ones with leaves.

  3. When I lived in the US, I would throw watermelon rinds in the garbage disposal, which avoided the landfill problem. And composting is an even better approach. But eating them bests them all! Great tip! (but watermelon, in February?)

    • I’m really loving the texture and subtle flavor of the rinds in the chutney, and will be trying other things with them … but when they’re in season next time. The watermelon was so cheap ($3.99) that I assumed it was, but your comment made me check. Time to start paying more attention to that.

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  5. ..eat all red flesh, remove green skin and take only white parts.
    cut them 3-5cm long and slice very thinnly.

    just use them in any salad in the place you need cucumber.

    or make their own salad.
    *sauce – salt, vineger, sesame oil, sesame seed,
    hot chilly powder(optional),
    chopped sping onion(optional)
    finely crushed garlic(optional)

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