Despite my best efforts, I was never able to successfully grow watermelons in or on my body. However, this memory of my grandma sprouts up every time I accidentally munch on a fresh watermelon seed while eating the sweet summer fruit. (Yes, I know that watermelons are technically berries, scientifically speaking.) Maybe that was grandma’s goal all along: plant a seed in my brain that sparked a fond memory of her each time I ate watermelon.
Sailing to New Culinary Shores: The Edible Watermelon Seed
The Tyrant and I are food explorers: we love discovering new heirloom seed varieties to grow in our garden. We also enjoy exploring cuisines from other cultures.
A few years ago, we were in a Middle Eastern grocery store seeing what unusual foods we could get our hands on when we spied bags of roasted seeds that looked oddly familiar. There wasn’t a single English word on the label, but our suspicions were confirmed when we asked the shopkeeper what they were. “Roasted watermelon seeds,” he said. “Very good.”
Our first reaction: “Woah. Watermelon seeds are considered a good food?”
Watermelons are native to Africa, but have been spread around the world by traders and merchants for hundreds or even thousands of years. As it turns out, plenty of other cultures don’t just view the fruit as a delicacy, they also enjoy roasting and eating watermelon seeds.
How To Eat Watermelon Seeds
Raw watermelon seeds straight out of the melon aren’t that great to eat. They’re crunchy, fibrous, and slightly bitter. This is due to the thick seed coat that’s protecting the endosperm and other goodies hidden inside—and the hidden part of the seed offers the best flavor and nutrition.
Watermelon seeds are typically roasted and eaten similarly to the way we eat sunflower seeds in America.
Here’s a simple watermelon seed recipe: wok-roasted, salted watermelon seeds:
- When eating the fruit, separate the seeds and put them in a colander. Only use the hard, mature seeds for roasting—not the undeveloped white seeds.
- Rinse the seeds thoroughly, removing any sticky film on the seeds and small chunks of watermelon.
- Dry the seeds for 10-14 days.
- Heat a skillet or wok with a tablespoon or so of oil (we like the flavor of raw organic coconut oil here, but it won’t be raw after you cook it), then add your watermelon seeds. Stir and roast until the outside of the seeds have started browning.
- While the seeds are roasting, dissolve a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water. Once the watermelon seeds are almost completely roasted, add the salt-water mixture to the pan. Stir regularly until the water has dissolved and the outside of the seeds have a thin coating of salt on them.
- Allow to cool before eating. Crack open the shell like you would a sunflower seed, and eat the tasty goodness on the inside. You can also eat the whole seed if you’d prefer—they taste just like roasted pumpkin seeds but they have a thick, crunchy seed coating that some people might not like.
According to many grandmothers, cooking watermelon seeds also ensures that they won’t germinate in your stomach and sprout out of your ears.
*NOTE: If you know how to safely sprout edible seeds, you can also sprout your watermelon seeds, remove the seed coating, and then eat them raw or roasted. This method may even provide more nutritional benefits.
Watermelon Seeds’ Nutritional Value
Want another good reason to eat watermelon seeds? Like other seeds and nuts, watermelon seeds are REALLY good for you. They’re high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and have lots of good fats. Also, watermelon seeds have an exceptionally high protein content. How high?
That’s right, watermelon seeds pack more protein per ounce than both sunflower seeds and almonds!
Organic, Heirloom Watermelons
The best tasting watermelons we’ve ever eaten are the ones we’ve grown ourselves. As food adventurers, we love the wide range of colors, sizes, shapes, and flavors that come from heirloom seeds (watermelons included).
We grow our watermelons using organic and permaculture methods. Doing so ensures they’re growing in living soil that’s teeming with microbial life; those microbes team up with the roots of the plants to provide disease and pathogen protection plus optimal water and nutrient uptake. The result: the most flavorful, nutrient-dense watermelons possible.
The seeds we don’t save to grow in future years become a healthy and delicious snack. Oh, and you can also pickle or candy the watermelon rinds so that no part of the plant goes into your compost bin. We’ll try to get a watermelon rind recipe up soon.
Until then, enjoy your edible watermelon seeds!