Pickled Watermelon Rind

Here we are again! Another blog post on using watermelon rinds in cocktails!

If you haven’t checked out my very first post on using watermelon rinds, you can CLICK HERE!

In this post, I’ll show you how to pickle your leftover Watermelon Rinds and use them in drinks!

This is an extremely fast and easy way to turn your hard-to-eat rinds into amazing savory cocktail garnishes.

As noted in the previous recipe mentioned in the blog, watermelon rinds taste similar to a regular watermelon but with the texture of a cucumber.

So why not give it a try!

Why Should You Pickle It?

  1. The acidity will soften the hard rinds and transform them into tasty crunchy pickles.
  2. The rinds will absorb the brines flavors (you can include spices and herbs to flavor the brine).
  3. The brine will also absorb the flavors from the rinds (so you can use the brine itself to give an acidic and flavorful touch to your cocktails).
  4. And finally, It will preserve the rinds for a very long period of time.

Submersing watermelon rinds into a brine will do several useful (and sustainable) things.

As mentioned, not only will the rinds become easy to eat, but the actual brine itself will absorb its flavor and become more cocktail-friendly!

What You Will Need

For this recipe, all you’ll need are:

  • Watermelon Rinds
  • Sugar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (or another type of vinegar)
  • Spices / Herbs (I’m using leftover mint stems and peppercorn)

Tools:

  • Jar
  • Melon Baller

A Side Note on Using Mint Stems

In this recipe, mint stems are also used to infuse flavor into the brine and rinds.

Stems don’t often get used behind the bar because of their slight bitter flavors as well as tough almost inedible texture.

So rather than eating them, why not extract their last remaining flavors!

The best way to do this is through cooking them or letting them sit in a liquid to let all of their flavors infuse.

Mint stems will taste almost exactly the same as mint leaves. They may not have the same ‘fresh’ tasting qualities as the leaves themselves, but will instead have bitter notes to them that can complement other flavors.

Besides that difference, they will still have a strong mint flavor that can be used for all types of infusions!

Part I:
Cutting Out Your Rinds

The first step to making pickled watermelons is deciding how you want to shape/cut them.

You can slice them into french fry shapes, cubes, rectangles, or even into spheres.

Because I plan to skewer these garnishes with a pick, I like the look of them when they are shaped into spheres.

You can do this very easily using a melon baller.

Using a melon baller will not only help you create almost spherical melon balls but will also help you separate the softer part of the rind from the hard exterior.

You must leave out the hard exterior part of the watermelon! (I’m talking about the green part).

It’s not poisonous or anything, but it is extremely difficult for your stomach to digest unless cooked over a long period of time (something which I will show you in an upcoming blog post).

Once you have your leftover watermelon rinds place the rind with the hard exterior on top of a cutting board.

Using your melon baller, make scoops on every part of the softer part of the rind

Try to get as much as you can from the soft part of the rind.

Once you have your spheres, set them aside and prepare your brine

Part II:
Making Your Brine

The flavor that you choose to make your brine is up to you.

Brines can be made in many different ways, but here I’ll show you one that works perfectly well with watermelon.

They can be sweeter or sourer and can include any type of spices that you think would pair well with the chosen fruit/vegetable.

In the case of watermelon rinds, I’m using the following spices:

  • Mint Stems (highly recommended!)
  • Peppercorns
  • Hot Pepper Flakes
  • Salt

Feel free to include unwanted citrus peels or piths into the brine.

Now before you make the brine, place all of the spices in your jar along with your shaped watermelon rinds. (If you’re using mint stems, be sure to dice them up so that they infuse better).

Side Note: I usually go by eye with the spices, but the rule of thumb is to use them sparingly.

For the actual liquid brine itself, I’m mixing equal parts of Simple Syrup, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Water for dilution.

(Note that you can adjust this ratio to your liking).

(For the acidic part of the brine, I sometimes like to mix in a 50/50 blend of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to temper down the harsh bite vinegar can have).

Once your brine is mixed up, pour it into the jar to combine with the rinds and spices.

In just one single day at room temperature (or 2 days stored in the fridge), your pickled watermelon rind will be softer than usual with still a lovely crunch.

It will also have absorbed all of the flavors from the brine and spices that you placed in it.

(Side Note: Your brine and watermelon rinds will reach a delicious sweet spot after the 2-week mark in the fridge.)

Conclusion

Important Things To Consider…

While your pickled watermelon rinds will be infusing with the brine, the ingredients may ferment if kept at a high temperature and/or not used for long periods of time.

I’ve personally noticed during the hot points of summer my brine beginning to carbonate very quickly.

Fear not though, that everything will still taste amazing (maybe even better depending on your taste), but the pickles, as well as the brine, will be carbonated (whether you prefer that or not)!

This can be caused by a combination of the room temperature and/or the ratio of sugar/acid/water that you chose to use.

In short, if you don’t want your brine to turn fizzy, keep it in the fridge.

And beware. Pickling them won’t preserve them forever. 1 and a half to 2 months should be the cut-off time.

Label, date it, and check up on it regularly.

Featured Cocktail:
Dirty Watermelon Martini

This is a twist on a 50/50 Martini, which typically calls for equal parts of gin and dry vermouth.

To make things more interesting, I’ve infused my gin and vermouth with leftover ingredients, plus used the watermelon brine to make it dirty, and added a couple of drops of Scrappy Bitters Black Lemon to round up all the ingredients.

I figured that just as you would add a dash of orange bitters to a martini, why not add Lemon Bitters instead?

After all, lemon and watermelon always work super well together.

And of course, let’s not forget that this cocktail has a super tasty edible garnish of a pickled watermelon rind!

Ingredients:

  • 45ml Leftover Cucumber Infused Gin
  • 45ml Mint Stem Infused Vermouth
  • 7.5ml Watermelon Rind Brine*
  • 3 drops of Scrappy Black Lemon Bitters*
  • Garnished with Pickled Watermelon Rind*

Delicate in flavor and much lower in ABV than a regular martini. No flavor dominates the other, but if you let the pickled rind sit for a while, you’ll begin to taste more watermelon flavor in your martini.

Definitely a great way to make a stirred boozy drink more refreshing and easier to handle when the weather is hot!

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