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.