Watermelon seeds—those slimy little nuisances that generations of farmers worked so hard to breed out of the crop—are the secret ingredient behind the latest “it” butter.
All those summer afternoons spent spitting the seeds out of watermelons and the whole time we’ve been missing out–if some health food advocates are to be believed–on the best part of the fruit.
When did watermelon seeds get trendy?
Roasted watermelon seeds started showing up on food blogs as a “thing” a few years ago, although they’ve been a popular snack in the Middle East where they’re roasted with olive oil and salt, and in China, where they’re roasted with soy sauce and sesame oil, for centuries.
Not content with just roasting the seeds, some clever cooks started grinding them into “butter.” The evolution isn’t all that surprising though, considering the ever-growing industry of milk alternatives. With options made from cashews to almonds, oats, soy, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, “butter” is no longer just for cream and peanuts.
So many seed butters, so little time
With butter products ranging from macadamia and coconut to sesame, sunflower, hemp, pumpkin and soy, it’s clear consumers today are hungry for alternative butters. Chock full of minerals and vitamins, antioxidants and fibre, these products are taking a bite out of the 3-billion-dollar global peanut butter market. Making the leap from peanut to almond butter seems like a natural progression, but watermelon seed butter takes the concept to a whole new level.
What is watermelon seed butter like?
Okay, let’s get down to it. We recently tracked down a jar of stone ground organic raw watermelon seed butter. We’ve taken to spooning some on to celery sticks for a sort of outré ants on a log, used it to bulk up a banana smoothie and added it with miso and ginger to a vinaigrette.
Here’s what we’ve learned:
- Nutritional benefits: The jar claims to be high in vitamins A, B and C, as well as a good source of protein, magnesium and amino acids.
- Flavour: Mild and pleasant. A bit like tahini, but with a slight afterburn like you get from fresh olive oil.
- Texture: Creamy.
- Consistency: Similar to an oily peanut butter.
- Colour: Instead of the clammy black colour I was expecting, the butter is more of a drab, non-colour reminiscent of dad khakis. This is because the black, outer husk is removed before grinding the seeds, leaving only the creamy interior.
- Overall benefits: It could be a viable alternative for those with tree nut allergies or for use in school lunches (watermelon seed allergies are extremely rare).
With the ever-growing options of nut butters available to us, choosing one to rule them all may have us hesitant to bend the knee to a single kind. Time will tell how this food trend will take off, but we’re always onboard to expand our nut butter pantry.
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