Lacto-fermented Garlic-Dill Watermelon Rind Pickles

Don't compost it- turn the rind into a crunchy, salty delicious pickle!

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by Jody Gowans in Lacto-fermentation, Recipes
July 17, 2017

Watermelon: Nature’s Sport’s Drink!

No snack says summer like a big, crisp, juicy slice of watermelon! Composed of 92% water and full of electrolytes, watermelon beats all sports drinks as a delicious way to rehydrate on a hot day, or during halftime at soccer games!  

Juicy, crisp, delicious watermelon!

Juicy, crisp, delicious watermelon!

Watermelon also pairs well with savoury dishes, such as salsas, gazpacho, and watermelon-feta salad.

watermelon-feta salad with kombucha vinaigrette and lacto-fermented red onions

watermelon-feta salad with kombucha vinaigrette and lacto-fermented red onions

Not only is watermelon delicious, it is also a nutrient-dense food.  At a low 43 calories per cup, watermelon is high in vitamins (especially A and C), and a good source of potassium, magnesium and lycopene.   But wait, the nutrients aren’t only found in the red flesh.  Watermelon rind is also edible, containing the amino acid citrulline, which has reportedly antioxidant effects.  Citrulline also converts to arginine, an amino acid vital to the heart and improved circulation.  You can nibble on the rinds or juice them, but a tastier method to is to make lacto-fermented dilled watermelon rind pickles!

lacto-fermented watermelon rind after 2 days

lacto-fermented watermelon rind after 2 days


Watermelon rinds have been lacto-fermented and pickled for ages.  They are popular in the Southern United States (recipes have been found dating back to the Civil War), and in Russian cuisine.  The lacto-fermentation process gives that distinctive tang, and the garlic, dill and brine flavour the neutral base, (similar to cucumbers) of the watermelon rind.

The ferment is fairly quick (4 days).  Many recipes advise to trim off the green rind, but I like to max out the crunch in my ferments and find the green rind makes for a crisper pickle.  You can trim the green off before serving if you find it too tough.  So, the next time you cool off with a juicy slice of watermelon, don’t compost the rind, make some delicious pickles instead!


Fermentation time: 4 days 


  • Watermelon rind, (washed, red flesh removed)
  • Brine (4 tsp salt + 4 cups water)
  • Dill (sprigs or heads)
  • Garlic (2-3 cloves, or more if you like it!)
  • Peppercorns, mustard seed, (optional)
  • Bayleaf
  • Fermentation container
  • Fermentation weight


  1. Slice rind into cubes or strips (peel off green rind, if desired).  Pack into jar, alternating with garlic, dill and spices.
watermelon rinds with dill and brine

watermelon rinds with dill and brine

2. Store at room temperature, out of direct sunlight   Sample after 3 days.  Add one more day if you require more flavour and texture.

3. Refrigerate and serve cold for maximum crispness

  1. Larry says:

    Wouldn’t alum also work to aid the crispiness? It does with cucumber pickles.

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Larry- sure, you can use alum if you like. I have never used it, but have read positive reviews about it.

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Sheri- Not sure I understand your question. The brine is a mixture of salt and water (quantities listed in the recipe)

  2. Nancy says:

    I put a couple of pinches of black tea in a pint size jar. It really does make the pickles crunchier! 👍

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Nancy- yes, black tea is an excellent source of tannins!

  3. Maria says:

    How long they last in the fridge?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Maria- thanks for your interest and question. Technically, these pickles last a long time (they don’t go bad), but they do soften. I would predict you will lose the crunch after a month or 2 (we tend to eat them within a few weeks in my house!)

  4. Al Fischer says:

    Tried it but the rurned tough and like rubber. What went wrong?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Al- Sorry to hear your watermelon pickles didn’t turn out. There are many factors that could lead to different textures in fermentation projects. Higher temperatures increase the activity of the microbes consuming the starches in the fermented food. A cooler environment and a shorter fermentation period can help to maintain the crispness in the food. I like to soak my cucumbers in an ice bath prior to fermentation to help enhance the crunch. You could also try this with the watermelon rind.

      1. Kermit A Hugo says:

        To keep fermented veggies and watermelon rinds crunchy, you need tannin. Cover your ferment with grape leaves (research as there are different types), but be sure they, too, are submerged

      2. Jody Gowans says:

        Thanks for the tip! Adding a tannic source can help in adding a crispness to the vegetables. If you can’t find grape leaves, you can use bay leaves, which are available in the spice area of your local grocery store. Tea is also another available source.

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