Pickled Watermelon Rind

Did you know watermelon rind is edible? I had no idea! I remember growing up being told that eating the white part would give one stomachaches, so I avoided going past the pink area for at least two dozen years. At some point in the last decade I learned the rind is, in fact, edible, and have been meaning to give pickled watermelon rinds a go ever since!

The following recipe is a great way to use the rind and introduce your family to pickled watermelon. The flavors are reminiscent of dill pickles and are well-received by young and old alike. The next time you get a watermelon, give this recipe a go and tell me what you think!

1 Watermelon rind (washed, red flesh removed and cut into strips)
2-3 tablespoons of salt
Dill (sprigs or heads)
Garlic (2-3 cloves, or more if you like it!)
1 tbsp. whole peppercorns
1 tsp. mustard seed (optional)
1 Bay leaf
1 quart mason jar or fermentation vessel

INSTRUCTIONS:
Scrape the pink flesh from the watermelon rind. Peel the outer green skin from the watermelon rind. Cut the watermelon rind into 1-inch squares.
Prepare a light brine by combining 2-3 Tbsp. of salt and 1 quart of filtered water.
Place watermelon rind strips, garlic cloves, dill sprigs and any spices you desire into a mason jar or fermentation vessel. Fill up the remaining space in the jar with the salt solution. Use a wooden spoon to release any air bubbles trapped along the sides of the jar.
If necessary, weigh the rind pieces down under the brine. I use cabbage leaves and sterilized river stones to weigh my ferments (you can sterilize any rock that will fit in a mason jar by washing it well and putting it in the oven at 300 degrees or higher while you bake or roast dinner. I just keep my rock there when not in use).
Cover each jar with a tight lid, airlock lid to prevent oxygen from entering the culture.
Culture at room temperature (60-70°F is preferred) for 3-7 days, until desired taste is achieved. If using a tight lid, burp daily to release excess pressure.
Once the culture is finished, put a tight lid on the jar and move to cold storage. The flavor will continue to develop, albeit more slowly.

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