When I think of fruits that are good for preserving, watermelon is not one that immediately springs to mind. Truly, it’s not something I would have even considered putting in my jam pot, had it not been for a request from my fellow former Slashfoodie, Stef from Cupcake Project.
She was trying to find a way to make a watermelon cupcake that tasted fully of the melon, without resorting to an additives not found in nature. One of her readers suggested using a watermelon jelly, and so she made a request of me. Would I be up for trying to create one that she could use in a cake?
I’m always up for a challenge and so took a stab. During the cooking, I was racked with anxieties, as the watermelon juice took on a slightly strange scent once hot. I used pectin and took the syrup all the way up to 220 degrees, in the hopes of getting a good, jellied set.
Only when I checked the jars the morning after canning, they hadn’t set solidly. The contents were thick, but still loose. I sighed and tucked the jars away, figuring I’d need to try again. However, before I managed to make another batch, I returned to the first set of jars and discovered that while they’d been sitting, the pectin had activated and they’d jelled perfectly. Upon tasting, I was happy to find that jelly was spreadable, sweet, tart and deeply watermelon-y. Another version of summer in a jar. I’m sold!
- 5 cups white sugar
- 5 tablespoons powdered pectin
- 6 cups pureed watermelon remove any seeds prior to pureeing
- 1/2 cup bottled lemon juice
- Whisk together sugar and powdered pectin until they are fully integrated. Combine watermelon puree, sugar/pectin and lemon juice in a large, non-reactive pot.
- Bring to a boil and let cook until the temperature of the nascent jelly reaches 220 degrees. This can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on the width of your pot, the heat of your stove and even the weather you’re having. Check set using saucer test before removing it from the heat, to ensure that it will set.
- Remove from the heat and pour into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and screw on bands. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
- When time is up, remove from canner and let jars cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. You can eat immediately or store unopened jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
I’m super excited to try this recipe out!! We have SO MUCH watermelon where I live, at this time of year, and this jelly looks amazing – not to mention those cupcakes! Quick question, though – you say to remove seeds. Do you just mean the black seeds? Are the white ones alright to leave in?
Thanks so much!
I typically try to get the bigger white seeds out of the watermelon, but a few are okay.
What brand of pectin did you use??
I used Ball brand powdered fruit pectin.
What could have happened to make the jelly smell fishy?
I’m not sure how that would happen!
How do I puree to get the juice and can I use sure jell
You puree watermelon in a blender. And I don’t recommend Surejell. Ball pectins are more reliable.
Is there any way of using less sugar? Watermelon is already sweet, is there another fruit that could be used?
It will not set up with less sugar.
Only thing i would add is the yield is WAY off. It says 5 – 1/2 pints and my batch made 10 – 1/2 pints. Don’t know if this is a typo for 5 pints instead or what, but i had to scramble to clean 3 more jars (I usually prep a couple extra every batch).
I don’t understand how you yielded so much. There’s not even enough starting ingredients to yield 10 pints.
Has anyone tried adding salt? I hear it is a southern USA preference.
If I don’t have half-pint jars, do I have to change the processing time to use pint jars?
The processing time is the same for pints and half pints. It only increases if you go to a bigger jar than a pint.
What applications do you suggest besides the cake?
Really, anywhere you’d like a jelly. Toast. Whisked into sparkling water. As part of a vinaigrette.
I believe in your reply about making so many half pints you may have misworded. In the recipe it says yields 5 HALF pints. But in that reply you use just pints. This recipe yielded 10 half pints or 5 pints.
This recipe makes a little over five cups of finished product. I canned it in two pint jars and one 12 ounce jar, but it can be canned in pints, 12 ouncers, half pints, or quarter pints. You will not get ten half pints from this recipe.
lost my recipe book . Just trying to find a new one
My grandmother would cook down the watermelon, add sugar, and then I believe would strain the liquid with cheesecloth to remove the seeds. It wasn’t jelly-would put it on kuchen (coffee cake).
The jelly came out great! Once I got it to 220 I kept it there for 5 minutes. It was set the next day with the perfect texture. I took out any seeds I found before adding to the blender and then put it through a mesh strainer in case there were any seed fragments so it was nice and smooth. I make a lot of cakes and use my jams as filling between layers, this will be good with a white cake and cream cheese frosting for a taste of Summer! Thanks for the recipe!
I’m so happy to hear that it worked so well for you!
I used sure jell and it worked great. Love the new idea for watermelon jelly.
So, caveat here, I tried to double the recipe since we had a monster watermelon to use up, and ran into multiple problems. 1) it boiled over really bad in my 3 gallon stock pot. I transferred it to my largest pan – my waterbath canner pan – and it just wouldn’t get up to 220 even after an hour of boiling it. I’m sure I lost a LOT of volume doing it that way, so my measurements likely were way off by this point, but I couldn’t go back. So, in order to get it to reach 22 I divided the mixture in half, to cook it in two batches in my stainless steel pot that cooks hotter. It worked, in just a few minutes I had it up to temp. I had read so many comments on multiple versions of this recipe about people’s recipe turning to syrup so I got worried and cooked it longer. This was a mistake! I’m fairly certain what I scooped into the jars will be watermelon candy. I hope we can get it back out of the jars again after it cools. The second batch I did not cook extra, I only cooked it the 5 minutes, and it is beautiful. I’m pretty sure it will set up as proper jelly. Moral of the story here is don’t underestimate the size of your pan!
You never want to double a recipe like this one. That’s where your trouble started.