Watermelon Rind Agua Fresca

The newly established Mr. Kate eats an awful lot of watermelon. We’re averaging two big watermelons a week in this household. I certainly do my fair share, but I increasingly sense that he holds back on his consumption so I can have more.

I’ve become pretty good at spotting a ripe watermelon. Forget about thumping the poor thing. There are three things to look for:

  1. Does it have a nice big yellow spot somewhere? If yes, this means it actually rested on the ground long enough to get ripe instead of being stuck on a truck when it was still just a wee thing.
  2. Does it have a bit of the stem left? If yes, the stem should be wrinkled, indicating again that it actually had a chance to get ripe in the wild. Don’t knock yourself out looking for one with a stem. This rule is just for ones that happen to have one.
  3. And finally if both of those things are true, and you’re choosing between two equal-looking specimens, go for the one with the darker green stripes. This one varies heavily species to species, but given that you’re probably buying a generic hybrid from the grocery store, this will work.

With all of this melonning going on, we’re generating a lot of waste. We haven’t picked up a compost bin yet, so each time I slice one up and have to put all of those rinds in the trash, I just feel sick. I started to wonder whether there’s anything to be done with the white part of the rind. It’s still melony and juicy, but it just doesn’t have much flavor – or sometimes it’s even a little bitter.

Googling suggested making pickles after the Southern habit, but we’re just not that into pickles. I found a few bodybuilder sites on which men were suggesting that watermelon rind has Viagralike properties! But then I finally found one site nestled among all those that said they could be used like cucumbers.

I peeled the green skin off of the rinds I had left and tossed them into the fridge, intending to make them into  “cucumber” salad the next morning. Yen came home later that night after I was asleep, and found this big container in the fridge. Because it was one of his fast days (I’ll explain in another post), he started munching them. They looked (he told me later) like something crunchy with not a lot of calories.

So all of this got me convinced that we should be keeping those little white squares and finding things to do with them. Yen eats some of them, but then I remembered something else I love to do with cucumbers in the summer: I slice them into a pitcher and keep cucumber-water around. That took me to the next leap of making them into agua fresca. If they had the slight watermelon taste and were full of water, they’d be perfect, right? Turns out I was correct.

Watermelon Rind Agua Fresca

Ingredients

watermelon rind, roughly chopped (you’ll need two cups for every two cups of agua fresca you want)
lime juice (or lemon extract if you’re out, as I currently am)
sugar
salt
water

Instructions

Place two cups of rind, two cups of water, two tablespoons of sugar, juice from half a lime (or 1 teaspoon of lemon extract), and a pinch of salt in your blender. Set it to “ice drink” or whatever your blender’s most choppy setting is. The mixture will turn frothy and a lovely shade of pale pink. Pour the mixture a little bit at a time through a strainer into a pitcher. I find that half a watermelon makes about a half gallon of agua fresca.

No one would fault you if you served this with gin and ice, but I just love it straight up.

Editor’s note, the next day: I wrote this on a tablet. Turns out I make a lot of homophone errors when I do that. Yikes.