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Monday, July 11, 2022

Using It All (or Almost All): Watermelon Rind in Smoothies

Hi friends,

I took last week off. All the cooking, cleaning and then the celebration of Independence Day wore me down, and then I had a scratchy throat and fatigue for the rest of the week. Nothing else. But I did have to choose between 1) living my life or 2) writing about my life for the week. There was not enough energy to do both for a few days.

One of the things I wanted to share was how we've been using our watermelon rind. For the 4th of July I bought a whole watermelon at 49 cents/lb. That sounds like such a great price for fresh fruit, doesn't it? Well, it is if you eat all (or almost all) the parts of the melon. It always bugs me that so much of a watermelon isn't eaten. All of those rinds tossed onto the compost heap. That's food that is being tossed out!

So, when I serve watermelon to my family, I cut the melon into slices, then cut away the green and white part, cubing the juicy red flesh for eating. I bag up the rinds and keep them in the fridge until I can do something with them, usually within a few days.

bite-sized cubes of watermelon, rind removed and set aside for later


The 4th of July left me with quite a bag of melon rinds. I knew I needed to do something with them.

I still have several jars of pickled watermelon rind to use up, so I quickly decided I would not use this rind in pickles. I thought about making chutney, but I didn't have the rest of the ingredients I would need. I gave serious thought to using the rind in a stir-fry. But what I settled on better fit what my two daughters and I have been having for breakfasts or lunches lately -- smoothies.

from a quarter of a 10-lb watermelon, this is all that I throw away/compost -- the thin green skin

My bag of rinds in the fridge was growing with each passing day, so it was time to get moving. Using a vegetable peeler. I removed the thin green skin from the rind and then cubed the remaining white portion. 


I used my smoothie blender, but I also think a pitcher blender would work for this. I put a couple of  large handfuls of these cubes into the smoothie blender and topped with some water, enough to get the puree going. I pureed the cubes until about as smooth as applesauce. 

watermelon rind puree, ready to blend with bananas, berries, milk or yogurt

I kept this watermelon rind puree in the fridge until we wanted to make smoothies. Watermelon rind has a barely detectable watermelon flavor, making it a good base for a variety of other additions. To add flavor, we've been blending the rind puree with frozen strawberries, blueberries, bananas, milk, soy milk powder, vanilla, peanut butter, and sometimes honey or sugar. 


Watermelon rind is one of those throw away parts of the fruit for most households. Yet it is chock full of nutrients (dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and the amino acid citrulline). This is a double win for me. I'm using almost all of the melon while boosting my nutritional intake.

How about you? Would you drink a smoothie made with watermelon rind? Have you ever tasted watermelon rind pickles or used watermelon rind in stir-fries? Does it ever bug you that so much of the watermelon is wasted if the rind isn't used too? Or do you sometimes think I take this "waste-less" approach too far?



14 comments:

  1. I have only ever had plain watermelon. Sadly, not too many people in my household like watermelon and I think (if I remember correctly), it's not the best for diabetics. My daughter drinks smoothies everyday and if we had watermelon rind I think she would definitely try it. She freezes all kinds of fruit first so that her smoothies are super slushy so I would imagine she could freeze cubes of watermelon rind as well.

    Alice

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    1. Hi Alice,
      Yes, I think freezing the watermelon rind, peeled and in small cubes, would probably work. The cubes would need to be small or thin, I think, because they would be sooooo hard, like cubes of ice. Just my thought, as I'm not sure on this. Anyway, moot point, as it doesn't sound like watermelon is something you're likely to buy.

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  2. I'm not a smoothie drinker, but I know that they are a place that people "hide" all kinds of things. Watermelon rind seems right for that. I'm intrigued about using the rind in a stir fry. It doesn't sound quite right to me, but it could be good.

    I think its interesting how your are striving to use all parts of the plants you have. Right now, I am happy if we don't let any of the "regular" parts of food go to waste. However, I could see myself enjoying the challenge of figuring out how to use all of the parts.

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    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I do hide a lot of different things in smoothies. You can add small amounts of cooked grains, even, so that the smoothie contains a balance of nutrients. The other day I had some radish leaves to use up, so I added a couple of those to my fruit smoothie at lunch. When added in small amounts, non-sweet vegetables, like greens, are undetectable in the finished smoothie.
      I don't know if Laura will be reading here, today. But I think I remember her saying she uses watermelon rind in savory dishes. I may be remembering wrong, though. Anyway, I was thinking I would try peeling the rind, then thin slicing it to add to a sweet and sour stir-fry.
      This challenge has been fun, but also very helpful for our budget. I'm putting the money I would have spent on produce bought at the store toward the increasing costs of basics I can't grow and have to purchase. And we've enjoyed new and interesting flavors. I used unripe (still green, hanging on the plant) nasturtium seeds in salads this last week. They added a crisp, radish-like flavor to the salad.

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  3. My chickens LOVE watermelon rind more than just about anything, so that’s where mine would go. I really don’t buy watermelon anymore because my husband doesn’t like it, and I suck at picking them out so they never taste that great. If I see a good price on a mini one I might have to buy one. I can eat a little, and then give my chickens a treat.

    Diane

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    1. Hi Diane,
      I have to tell you something funny from my end, here. My eyesight is fuzzy in the morning and I misread your comment as your "children LOVE watermelon rind." So that last line I read as "give my children a treat." When I reread the comment and saw the actual words, I almost spit out my coffee laughing at myself!
      Anyway, do you have Grocery Outlet nearby? They had mini watermelons at a good price when I bought the larger one. GO is where I bought the large melon. My daughter also told me, after the fact, that she's seen watermelons even cheaper at WinCo (39 cents/lb). So they might also be a good place to buy a mini watermelon, if you get to WinCo again soon. So, your chickens might enjoy that melon rind treat, after all. That's good to know that you can feed these to chickens. My husband and I are getting closer to the prospect of keeping a few hens on our property. It isn't just that eggs are increasing in price, but yesterday at Fred Meyer, it looked like they had far fewer eggs to even sell. Not a single 5-dozen box at all, now. And only 2 cartons of Dozen large eggs. I wound up buying the 18-ct cartons, and even those looked to be in short supply. It's just really weird seeing grocery store shelves not as full as they used to be.

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    2. Oh my gosh, that’s too funny lol. You must have been thinking what kind of horrible parent is this crazy lady lol. Thanks for the laugh lol.

      No grocery outlets of any kind here. Safeway had little watermelons a couple weeks ago for $1.97, but I didn’t get there that week.

      I hope you pull the trigger on the chickens soon. Besides giving you eggs, and I suspect, a lot of joy, because most people find they love chickens, I also really hate the way commercial chickens are raised, so the more people who keep backyard flocks, hopefully the fewer chickens there are being raised inhumanly. In the winter when I let mine take a break I try to buy the “least awful” store bought eggs, but boy are they expensive. My vegan dd will even eat my eggs because she says they are happy chickens, so the few eggs I get in the winter I save for her.

      Diane

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    3. Diane, thanks for the encouragement. I've wanted to keep hens for a while. I'm still working out in my mind some of the details, like how to keep them safe from the raccoons and coyotes that frequent our yard in spring and summer.
      Have a great day!

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    4. You likely would have to do as I had to, and keep them in an enclosed pen. For many years I just let mine free range all day, but too many fox kills (the chickens and the fox we had to shoot), and I reluctantly penned them. I let mine out most days for at least a few minutes, and that just has to be good enough. They get out to eat grass and rocks for awhile, and live a good long life. My Dh and I keep debating running electric fence around my pen, but so far we haven’t. Electric fence is recommended here because of bears. One of these days I suppose I will go out there to find the doors ripped off, and the chickens dead if we don’t do this lol.

      I believe it’s the responsibility of a chicken owner to do what they can to keep them safe. They aren’t “just a dumb chicken”. Watching all of mine get killed by stray dogs right before my eyes convinced me I needed to do something. I have lost more chickens to other people’s dogs than anything else.

      Diane

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    5. Hi Diane,
      Thanks for all of the info on your experience. We've been thinking about where in our yard we could put a pen. Because we have both coyotes and raccoons as regulars, here, we'd want a pen near enough to the house we could hear something prowling about. Still thinking this through.
      Wow, bears! Now that's a "pest" I haven't had to worry about.

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  4. I'm glad you made a wise choice with taking time off. It's easy to push ourselves too hard (or maybe that's just me .... ) instead of listening to our bodies and getting some rest. I was concerned that you were dealing with a health crisis from one of your family members who is struggling with health issues so I'm relieved to hear it was a relatively minor issue for you.

    I am not a huge smoothie person but I do try to make some during the summer months. I don't love my blender and I dislike getting it out all the time (limited counter space, so I store it in a cupboard). I would never have thought to use watermelon rinds for this but it's a great idea! Did you freeze the chunks of rind first? I think I'd be more likely to do it if I could freeze them and pull them out as the urge to make a smoothie came. :)

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    1. Hi Kris,
      Your comment resonates with me. I tend to run myself into the ground. Then I'm forced to take time off. As soon as I'm feeling better, I'm right back at it, working myself as hard as I can go, and then get wiped out again. Thanks for your concern about my family members. It's been a tough year.
      Same here on the regular blender. I keep it in a high cupboard near the sink. But it seems to get buried behind other items, and I have to take them out too to get to the blender. We have been keeping the smoothie blender on the counter in a corner, because it's so much smaller and doesn't take up much space. So I gravitate toward using that one.
      No, I didn't freeze the chunks of melon but pureed them fresh. As I said above to Alice, you might want to slice the chunks thin (about 1/4-inch like you would banana slices to be frozen). I am imagining the chunks being like ice cubes in the blender once frozen. I'll have to try freezing a couple of chunks to see. Freezing often changes the texture, bursting the cells of the fruit or vegetable. So, the melon rind might be even more undetectable in the finished smoothie. Thanks to you and Alice for suggesting this. I may give it a try. We have a shelf in the kitchen freezer with frozen smoothie ingredients. As I pick the strawberries, any that have bug or slug bites get trimmed and added to a container of frozen berries. And when I went grocery shopping 2 weeks ago, I bought extra bananas to slice and freeze primarily for smoothies. Having the melon rind chunks would be an extra ingredient for our little smoothie shelf.

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  5. I make smoothies for breakfast usually every other week (for a full week - I'm odd, I like to rotate my breakfasts at work, anyways.....) and never gave using rind as a base instead of frozen bananas, which are high in carbs. I'm going to try freezing some. Thanks for that tip and the many you pass along.

    I haven't commented lately but I enjoy (actually love!) reading your blog.

    Take care,
    Shelby

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    1. Hi Shelby,
      If you freeze the rind pieces, after peeling lengths, chop into small or thin chunks. I think they'd blend better than larger pieces. Alternatively, you could blend rind like I do, with water to get it going, then either keep the puree in the fridge for a few days at a time, or freeze the puree in amounts you would use within a few days. It seems to keep in my fridge for at least 3 days (we use it before it seems the least bit "old").
      Thank you for saying such nice things. I'm glad to have all of you, friends, here.
      Have a great day, Shelby!

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