Watermelon Kimchi: 2 Summery Recipes Without Food Waste

watermelon kimchi
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Wiolett_d

Watermelon is a fantastic summer treat but produces a lot of waste when the rind is tossed. Instead, cut the food waste with this tasty watermelon kimchi recipe.

Watermelons are a staple summer food, but did you know that the rind is also edible? Instead of creating excess food waste, consider eating watermelon rind in pickles, jams, or smoothies. Watermelon rind has a mild cucumber-like taste and texture that also lends itself well to salads or stir-fries. Watermelon kimchi is a fantastic way to create a long-lasting dish that combines the benefits of both watermelon rind and vegan kimchi:

  • Watermelon rind is high in fiber and low in calories.
  • Rich in citrulline, an amino acid that may help deliver oxygen to muscles during exercise, improve high blood pressure, or even increase blood flow in erectile dysfunction. 
  • Fermentation gives watermelon kimchi several health benefits that can combat cholesterol and constipation.
  • The high amount of lactic acid and CO2 prevents bacterial growth and can preserve watermelon kimchi for months.

Fresh Watermelon Kimchi

Enjoy your kimchi with rice, stir-fries, or as a topping.
Enjoy your kimchi with rice, stir-fries, or as a topping.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / touchngo)

Making watermelon kimchi requires some preparation, but is quite simple once all ingredients are prepared

Ingredients: 

  • 3-4 cups cubed watermelon rind (from one whole watermelon)
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup watermelon flesh
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 4 whole scallions, chopped
  • ¼ cup shredded carrot
  • 1-2 tbsp Korean red chili powder, to taste
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce (vegan)
  • Optional: ½ tbsp chopped mint, basil, or cilantro 

Instructions: 

  1. Peel and discard the thin green outer skin from the rind and cut away most of the pink flesh (no teeth marks!) Cut your rind into ¾-inch cubes in a bowl. Using your hands, coat the watermelon rinds with kosher salt and set aside for 30 minutes: the salt will draw out excess moisture and prevents spoilage.
  2. In a blender or food processor, blend the watermelon flesh, garlic, and ginger into a puree.
  3. Add scallions, carrot, chili powder, fish/soy sauce, and herbs to the puree to make the kimchi paste. It should taste salty, spicy, and lightly sweet.
  4. Drain your salted watermelon and rinse in a colander: this removes the brine and prevents your kimchi from being too salty. Using gloves, coat the watermelon rind cubes in kimchi paste.
  5. Enjoy! Fresh watermelon kimchi has a distinct crunch and makes an excellent summer salad or veggie sushi filling.

Tip: You can replace the Korean red chili powder with 1 tbsp pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or paprika.

Fermented Watermelon Kimchi

Organic watermelons have the safest rinds.
Organic watermelons have the safest rinds.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / veraeugster)

Fermented watermelon kimchi has a softer texture and more pronounced sourness that pairs well with cooked dishes such as stir-fries, fried rice, tofu, or dumplings. To make fermented watermelon kimchi, follow the exact same recipe as the fresh version, but don’t add any mint, basil, or cilantro until serving:

  1. Once your watermelon rind is coated in paste, tightly store it in a plastic or glass container (no metal), making sure most of the rind is submerged. Place clear plastic wrap over the surface of your kimchi and then loosely cover it with a lid. Do not seal the container: carbon dioxide produced during fermentation might crack your container if it can’t escape.
  2. Store in a cool, dark place for 1-3 days. The ideal temperature is between around 70°F (20°C) — colder than this, and the fermentation might be very slow or not happen at all, much warmer than this, and the fermentation happens very fast but the watermelon kimchi will also spoil sooner. The longer the fermentation, the more tangy your kimchi will be, so taste-test it daily.  
  3. When you are happy with your watermelon kimchi, store it in the fridge to prevent further fermentation. Your kimchi will last for 3-6 months and slowly increase in sourness.

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