9 Innovative Ways You Should Be Using Leftover Watermelon Rinds

Watermelons have a thick rind with juicy and delicious red (or sometimes yellow or orange) flesh. The cool and sweet flesh makes for a refreshing summer snack, can be juiced to make scrumptious beverages, offers a nice complement to a smoothie recipe, and so much more. If you're like many people, you probably enjoy the flesh and throw out the thick green and white rind. After all, it is too hard and bitter to use, right? Wrong.

While you probably don't want to just pick up and munch on a watermelon rind, there are actually several ways you can use them. Following one of these suggestions will not only let you explore some new flavors but it will also help you reduce food waste, which is a serious problem contributing to overflowing landfills. Moreover, as Northwestern Health Sciences University points out, a watermelon's rind is actually very nutritious. It has more fiber and is lower in sugar than the fruit's flesh. L-citrulline is also found in the rind. This healthy component may help individuals achieve healthier blood pressure and improve their overall athletic abilities and performance. Read on to learn how to take advantage of these health benefits and keep your watermelon rinds out of the trash can.

Pickle them

If you're looking for a relatively simple way to use up your watermelon rinds that is certain to yield a tasty finished product, consider pickling them. Pickled watermelon rinds offer a mix of sweetness with the tanginess of other pickled items. They'll make a nice snack or a surprising appetizing, or side dish for your next barbecue or get-together.

Pickling watermelon rind helps transform its more bitter flavor into something you'll absolutely love. Before pickling the rind, you'll want to remove the outer and tougher green layer, which should leave you with the more tender white later that's right below the red flesh. Then, cut the rind up into chunks and pickle it overnight in a mixture of rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar. If you want to save it for later, you can also can the pickled pieces.

Make candy

Watermelon rind candy? Now this is a recipe you'll want to try if you're looking to make a sweet summertime treat that will still provide you with all of those benefits of watermelon rind shared above. Again, for this idea, you'll want to peel the rind to remove the thicker green layer. Once you have the white layer, slice it into thinner pieces. Then, add some sugar and other flavors (consider basil, lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, or mint) to a pot of water. Heat the water over medium-high, and add the watermelon rind once it comes to a boil.

Cooking the rind for about five minutes will soften it nicely, at which point you can remove the rind from the pot and dry it out in a dehydrator or a warm oven until ready. For an alcoholic twist on this recipe (for your adults-only gatherings), consider cooking the rinds in rum instead of water.

Add them to your stir fry

If you like making stir fries, then this next idea is for you. Did you know that watermelon rind can make an excellent addition to your favorite stir-fry recipes? While the rind may start out rather hard, once you add it to your wok with all of your other ingredients and cook it for a few minutes, it will become nice and tender. The rind will also absorb the sauce and other flavors in the pan nicely while also adding its own hint of sweetness to the dish. The result will leave you wondering why you waited so long to try this.

Begin by preparing the rind for your dish. You'll want to peel off the outer green layer and use the white section for the stir fry. Slice the rind into thin pieces before mixing them with your other ingredients. You can experiment with different ingredient combinations. One idea to try includes adding some ginger, garlic, soy sauce, mint, and any of your other favorite veggies and proteins to the mix.

Make jam

Do you enjoy making your own jams and jellies? If so, then you'll definitely want to try watermelon rind jam. And, if you haven't gotten into making your own jams yet, now might be the perfect time to start. Watermelon rind jam is an easy recipe to start with if you don't have a lot of experience making your own jam. You don't even need pectin to pull this one together.

As with most other recipes that use watermelon rind, you'll want to start by peeling off the thicker green layer. Then, cut the rind into small pieces and add them into a pot. Peel and cut an apple into small chunks and add them to the pot as well. If desired, you could also add some of the red watermelon flesh (be sure to remove any seeds). Then, add in sugar, a little lemon zest, and lemon juice, and let the ingredients sit together for about 30 minutes before bringing them to a boil. Cook for one to two hours or until the watermelon rind and apple chunks are very tender. Remove from the heat and blend until it reaches your preferred smoothness. Once done, add the jam into your sterilized jars and seal them properly for storage.

Try watermelon rind curry

When you think about curry, chances are that you don't think about watermelon rinds. Your mind likely goes to chicken, beef, or shrimp. You might even think about chickpeas, mushrooms, or other vegetarian options. Just probably not watermelon rind. However, don't knock it before you try it. You can actually add the watermelon rind with your favorite curry protein, such as chicken, shrimp, or tofu.

Simply peel and chunk the watermelon rind into similarly-sized pieces as the veggies in your favorite recipe (think carrots, onions, and bell peppers). Because it will soften faster than these other veggies, just wait to add it until after you've sautéed the other veggies, the spices, and curry. Let everything simmer together until the watermelon rind and other ingredients are tender. You should expect this to take about 20 to 30 minutes. Then, you can dig in and enjoy.

Add them to a salad

One of the tastiest ways to use leftover watermelon rinds doesn't involve any cooking at all. You can add the slightly sweet white part of the rind to a salad to take advantage of all the nutritional benefits it has to offer. If you've ever accidentally bitten a piece of the white rind when eating a watermelon, then you know it is crisp and crunchy. This texture, which closely resembles that of a cucumber, makes this part of the fruit the perfect addition for a salad. Simply toss it in with lettuce, spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, and your other favorite salad veggies, and enjoy.

Alternatively, you could make a spicy, Korean-style watermelon rind salad by mixing the cut rind with onions, chives, and a spicy dressing. Experimenting with different dressings, vegetables, proteins, and other mix-in combinations will help you find the perfect salad recipe to match your preferences.

Freeze them to add to smoothies

While watermelon rind may be a little bitter by itself, when mixed with other ingredients, you likely won't notice the flavor as much. What better way to enjoy all the benefits that eating watermelon rind can deliver than by adding it to a smoothie? It will help add some sweetness, while the stronger flavors of the other fruits and ingredients will hide any hint of bitterness.

If you plan ahead and cube and freeze your watermelon, you can use it in place of ice. Remember, watermelons have a very high water content (hence, their name). This means that they will freeze solid and resemble an ice cube. To freeze your watermelon rinds, peel off the green outer layer and cut the white part into cubes. Spread these cubes out over a sheet of wax paper on a baking pan and place the entire pan in the freezer. Give the pieces a few hours to freeze before moving them to an airtight container to store in the freezer. Whenever you're ready to make a smoothie, you can just remove a few of the pieces and pop them in the blender with the rest of your ingredients.

Make a refreshing juice

You can combine your watermelon rind with the red flesh to make an incredible and refreshing juice to enjoy on a warm summer day. Simply add the flesh, some rind, and a little honey and lemon juice to your blender. Mix until smooth, chill in the fridge, and then pour yourself a tall glass to sip and enjoy. If desired, you can make other flavors, such as strawberry watermelon rind juice or pineapple watermelon rind juice. Just add the other fruits of your choice into the jar before blending.

There are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when preparing watermelon rind juice. The first one is to remember that watermelon rind has a more bitter taste. This is one of the reasons you want to add some honey and lemon to the juice as well, but you should also be careful to balance the amount of rind and flesh you add. If you find the juice to be too bitter the first time you make it, try using a little less rind and a little more flesh the next time you prepare it. Another important thing is to make sure that you wash the outside of the watermelon before you slice it. This will remove dirt and bacteria and make sure they don't find their way into your smoothie.

Add them to your compost pile

If you're still left with some extra watermelon rind after trying some of the ideas shared above, do not just put it in a trash can. Instead, try to compost it. All of those nutrients in the watermelon that are good for your body are also good for a compost pile. The rind will add nitrogen, phosphorus, and more to the compost, helping to make it richer. Plus, because watermelon rinds have a high water content, they'll also help deliver much-needed moisture to the process.

Before adding watermelon rinds to your compost pile, take a few extra minutes to cut them into small pieces. This way, they'll break down more quickly. It is also important to mix some browns — such as leaves and twigs — in with the watermelon rinds to avoid having too much moisture and not enough oxygen in the mix. If you don't have a backyard compost bin, check to see if there are any community compost piles in your area. There are also companies that offer compost pick-up services, similar to trash collection.