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Concept Cooking: Watermelon rind experiments: Spoiler alert: they worked WELL!

 
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I bought a watermelon, it sucked. There was a bit of ripe in the center, but the rest was just bland. So I looked up watermelon rind recipes for inspiration for what to do with it. Recipes that I saw that attracted my head were: Watermelon Rind Chutney,  Watermelon Rind Curry, Watermelon Rind Salad (Moroccan Inspired), Sweet and Savory Chinese Watermelon Rind Pickles, and roasted watermelon steak. Anyone who has seen anything I have posted about food knows I absolutely did not follow any of the recipes :) What I got out of all that was use it like any bland crispy vegetable or fruit. So these are my experiments:

Experiment #1: I told them "you are a cucumber" :: rind, purple onion, rice vinegar, red cooking wine, olive oil, fresh garlic, dill seed, salt, black pepper. Marinating in the fridge right now.

Experiment #2: I told them "you are a crappy flavored apple" :: rind, butter, fresh ginger, anise, cinnamon, cardamon, raisins, juice of a fresh lemon. I'm cooking it down into pie filling, will check/tweak sweetness after it's cooked down. Edit: I added a bit of sugar, I had a bit too much lemon juice in it. added chia for thickening.

Experiment #3: I told them "you are an eggplant" :: rind, kala jeera (a spice that tastes like smoked cumin), caraway, cayenne, powdered porcini mushroom, salt. The rinds were tossed with the powders, they are marinating, tomorrow I'll roast them.

So check back tomorrow for the outcome of the experiments! I had to type this up now while I still remembered what I had put in them.
 
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Mmmm!

 
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wow, serendipity!! I also bought a dud watermelon last week.    the rabbits will be sad to know it is not going to be entirely theirs, lol. I'll be trying that curry!
 
Pearl Sutton
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Whoo! 3 out of 3 are good! :D
Only issue with watermelon rind is you have to account for how much water it will sweat off, or things get soupy fast. Might be worth drying it out before working with it, chop it and salt it, let it sit, or toss it out in the sun for a hour or so to dehydrate a touch. Not too long, unless you want ferment/flies/food poisoning. :)

#1 You 'd think I'd know by now to let it marinate before putting it in the fridge. The olive oil sets up, and the vinegar is left free to get too strong. I have done this to cucumbers, and did it to the watermelon too :) So marinate, shaking it every so often, THEN fridge it. If you forget, like I do, serve it on top of lettuce, makes it taste less strong, tell it it's salad dressing.

Added a bit of sugar and chia to #2, forgot that I had put the juice of a whole lemon in there (edited first post to add these) cooking it down more. Really good flavor!

#3 is in the oven with some other stuff to be lunch. I tasted the marinate before cooking it, no way that could be bad. Tasted it a few minutes ago, it did not go bad :) Other stuff is heating, then it's lunch, along with #1 :)

I can see it holding it crisp when stir fried too, especially the thickest part along the rind. You peel off the green, but the hardest part there would stay crisp when cooked.  I think if the crispy part was marinated in soy sauce or something salty, it would be a lovely addition to stir fry. Cheap knockoff water chestnuts we can grow easily? Worth trying! The softer parts is excellent cucumber look alike. Texture holds lovely when cooked, for fake apples that don't go to mush.

And my head says the harder part would cut into shapes well, and hold through cooking, which has some AWESOME abuse potential. Star shaped chunks in jam? Soaked in beet juice and used to decorate a dessert? Or soaked in cherry juice and baked into a cake as surprises for kids?

Final opinion on watermelon rinds: WELL worth messing with!!!

 
Pearl Sutton
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Sitting here eating my lunch. Thinking on this, my brain is running amok.

The differing textures in the layers is really neat, it's basically three totally different ones. That lets you pick how firm/crispy you want it to come out.

The texture bit is fascinating. Ever bought cheap muffin mix with fake blueberries in it? Chopped watermelon would fake it much better! Would fake a lot of things that are more texture than taste, or that can be marinated into taste. I'm really liking how well it held up to baking, could be put on top of cake batter and be in good shape when the cake is done. (Now my head is putting fresh flower petals on a cake, with artwork of colored melon too... OOOH.)

I have injected melons with high proof alcohol before (I had a misspent youth...) (I can just hear my sisters saying "HAD? Still ARE!")  Using the softer layer of the rind, marinate it in something strong and tasty (creme de menth, triple sec or Cointreau, limecello, or anything rowdy you have around) and it would make neat party snacks or drink garnishes.

It's really kicking ass in the curry type stuff, soaks up flavors really well. If I had been served this, and told to guess what it was, if it didn't have the bits of pink on it, I don't think I could guess. And I'm good at that game. I back recipes out easily by tasting them.

Watermelon rind, the great pretender! :D
 
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I love this! Now I'm inspired. Since your the resident watermelon rind cooking expert, what do you think of watermelon rind gazpacho?

Replacement for cucumber in cucumber dill salad or in Israeli salad?

Sliced on a sandwich?
 
Pearl Sutton
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Amit Enventres wrote:I love this! Now I'm inspired. Since your the resident watermelon rind cooking expert, what do you think of watermelon rind gazpacho?


The softer parts, I think the crisper parts might be a bit too crunchy, unless you like yours crunchy, I don't...

Replacement for cucumber in cucumber dill salad or in Israeli salad?


Definitely!

Sliced on a sandwich?


Probably a bit bland for that, unless marinated. What comes to mind is a marinate I did years ago, made carrots into pepperoni (my grandpa "I taste the pepperoni, I know you didn't put meat on this, and why did you put carrots on pizza?") something like that would be excellent on a sandwich.

Watermelon rind bacon!! <-- That "bacon" link isn't anything I put, I'm just theorizing on bacon. I have made eggplant bacon, watermelon might be a worthy try.

The cool part is you don't lose the crunch when it cooks, that's fascinating me.
 
Tereza Okava
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back in my vegan days we made a "loin" of watermelon and gave it a super quick pass on a hot cast iron pan, searing it like a piece of tuna. the texture was excellent.
hopefully tomorrow I will report back with good news after experimentation!
 
Pearl Sutton
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Tereza Okava wrote:back in my vegan days we made a "loin" of watermelon and gave it a super quick pass on a hot cast iron pan, searing it like a piece of tuna. the texture was excellent.
hopefully tomorrow I will report back with good news after experimentation!


We await your report!
 
Tereza Okava
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Drat!! the melon was bad when I cut it open!! (this is what I get for buying out of season watermelon. harrumph). Will report back on the next melon.
 
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Wow, lots of good ideas for watermelon rind. I don't know how many times I've had watermelon that is nasty.
I can enjoy and make something good out of something that would otherwise not be worth a hoot.
 
Pearl Sutton
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It looks like I failed to connect this post to the one I made where I tried a watermelon steak, like Tereza Okava said above...
Concept Cooking: More watermelon abuse
Spoiler alert: Came out tasty!

:D
 
Pearl Sutton
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Update on all  this: I'm still abusing watermelon rinds! I just did a batch up to be fake apple type things, with honey, lime juice (it's what I had) cinnamon, cloves, ginger and five spice, and a touch of salt. Marinating it till I get back to it. Think it's gonna be topping for one of my weird cheesecakes! Concept cooking: Cheesecake

My deep thought for the day is people can up apple pie filling. And watermelon can taste like anything. Canning it up as apple pie might be good, but then I thought "maybe if you added one or two apples to just give it a bit more flavor, and stretch out not enough apples" .... that turned into "could use it to stretch out ANY fruit, can it up and have it over winter." I don't know about you, but I'm not currently getting enough fruit to be canning it up, but if my fruit were stretched out with watermelon rind, flavored to go with whatever fruit I'm doing, that might be a REALLY cool use for it! Watermelon grows easy and each one makes a lot of rinds. So a random example is gooseberry, I'd put lime or lemon juice on it, sweetener, and maybe a light flavored spice like anise or fennel. I think that would make a pretty decent gooseberry pie filling! Adding a bit of rhubarb if you have it would make it even better :D

Interesting ideas to consider as you deal with your summer bounty, or lack of it. (I'm looking at you, blueberry plants! Get in gear!)

:D  

Edit: copied this post off as a new topic of it's own Not enough fruit to can it up?
 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:

My deep thought for the day is people can up apple pie filling. And watermelon can taste like anything. Canning it up as apple pie might be good, but then I thought "maybe if you added one or two apples to just give it a bit more flavor, and stretch out not enough apples" .... that turned into "could use it to stretch out ANY fruit, can it up and have it over winter." I don't know about you, but I'm not currently getting enough fruit to be canning it up, but if my fruit were stretched out with watermelon rind, flavored to go with whatever fruit I'm doing, that might be a REALLY cool use for it! Watermelon grows easy and each one makes a lot of rinds. So a random example is gooseberry, I'd put lime or lemon juice on it, sweetener, and maybe a light flavored spice like anise or fennel. I think that would make a pretty decent gooseberry pie filling! Adding a bit of rhubarb if you have it would make it even better :D

 



This could also work to add "body" to something that would otherwise need a ton of thickener. First example that springs to mind is wild cherries. There's so little pulp and so much seed, that they're usually simmered for the juice. Adding grated watermelon rind to that juice would make it easier to turn it into pie filling :)

I'm bookmarking this thread. I produce seeds for a living, which often means ending up with a ton of one specific fruit or vegetable after the seeds have been removed. I hate wasting it, but the chickens and I can only eat so much.

(This year, for example, I planted more than 30 watermelons. That's actually tiny compared to how much my growing contracts usually call for.)

I would bet a lot of these would work for cucumbers and other types of melons as well.
 
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Wow, these are some great ideas here! The only one I've done before is making dill pickles out of watermelon rind. They were vinegar pickles, and canned, and I found the watermelon rind, which was too hard to eat fresh, became just right; whereas when I made cucumber dill pickles they tended to soften more than I liked. It was like the watermelon rind, when boiled in vinegar brine, became crispy cukes.

I peeled the dark green skin off with a vegetable peeler, and cut off (and eat) the pink bits because they would go soft. A watermelon with a disappointingly thick rind is ideal. For brine, I used commercial vinegar, mixed 50-50 with water. Add salt, pinch of sugar, peppercorns, garlic cloves, and plenty of dill in the bottom of each jar. Put some brine in each jar and swish it around to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pack the jars with cut watermelon rind pieces, fill with brine, and can in boiling water bath. It stayed crispy like a fresh cuke.
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