Lacto-fermented Garlic-Dill Watermelon Rind Pickles

Date: 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 RIND PICKLES

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!


HOW TO MAKE LACTO-FERMENTED GARLIC-DILL WATERMELON RIND PICKLES 

Fermentation time: 4 days 

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  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

14 Responses

  1. I want to can them. Would adding some alum and vinegar work to persevere and keep them crunchier like dill pickles. Does anyone else can these? If so what is the recipe…Please… My hair dresser had some years ago that a client brought from (she thinks)England. She doesn’t know what was in them but they were not sweet at all so I am trying to find a recipe to make them for her. She said they were definitely canned.

    1. sure, you can add vinegar and/or can them, but you will have a different end-product. You will not have the beneficial microbes which is fine if that is not important to you. You will also have a different flavour by adding vinegar.

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

    1. 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!)

    1. 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. 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. 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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