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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Canning and Preserving Watermelon - The whole watermelon!

Many people don't buy a whole watermelon just to make watermelon pickles from the rind but that's what I did. I bought a 10 pound watermelon scrapped down all the meat from one side and realized that I should try for a third time a watermelon jelly. I just won't let it beat me. I ran the flesh through a strainer to try to get the juice of the watermelon and set aside for my watermelon jelly. I cut off the green outer skin all the way down to the white and sliced off any remaining pink from the inside. I had the other side of the watermelon that I cut up and remember that I saw someone do a watermelon dried so I even put watermelon slices in the dehydrator.

Dehydrated Watermelon
When I checked the dehydrator this morning they turned out fantastic. I put the slices 1/4" thick and set the dehydrator to 135 degrees for 8 hours. They have a soft supple texture and the sweet watermelon flavor is so good with every bite. I was amazed how good these are and no sugar, no preservatives and so much better than a fruit roll up.

My first recipe of the evening was the watermelon pickles. I had made them last year but since we are on a roll doing recipes from the Better Homes and Garden magazine I thought I would do their version.

Watermelon Pickles

1 10 pound watermelon
6 cups water
1/3 cup pickling salt
Cold water
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
15 inches stick cinnamon, broken
Watermelon Rind Pickles
2 t. whole cloves

Cut rind from the watermelon (you should have 4 1/2 pounds rind) Trim off the pink flesh and the green and pale green outer portions of the watermelon rind; discard those portions. Cut the rind into 1 inch squares or other 1 inch shapes. Measure 9 cups rind.

Place the 9 cups rind in a large nonmetal bowl. In another large bowl combine the 6 cups water and pickling salt; pour over rind, add more to cover if needed. Cover bowl and allow to stand at room temperature overnight.

Pour the rind mixture into a colander set in sink. Rinse mixture under cold water; drain well. Transfer rind to a 4 quart heavy pot. Add enough cold water to cover rind. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer covered for 20 to 25 minutes or until rind is tender; drain.

Meanwhile, for syrup, in a 6 to 8 quart stainless steel, enamel, or nonstick heavy pot, combine sugar, vinegar, the 1 1/2 cups water, the stick cinnamon , and cloves. Bring to boiling stirring until sugar dissolves; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Strain mixture through a sieve or use a slotted spoon to pick out cloves and cinnamon. Return liquid to the same pot.

Add watermelon rind to syrup in pot. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 25 to 30 minutes or until rind is translucent. Pack hot rind and syrup into hot sterilized half pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, adjust lids.Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes at a full boil. Remove jar. Makes 6 half pint jars.

For the final portion of the watermelon, the juice, I put together the watermelon jelly. I used a basic recipe from the pectin package and making sure that I used the correct ratios so that it would set this time.

Watermelon Jelly

6 cups watermelon juice
2 cups sugar
Watermelon Jelly
4 T. bottled lemon juice
Pectin:
4 1/2 T. Ball Flex batch no sugar/low sugar pectin (You can use one package of Low sugar Sure-Jel)

Use the juice from the watermelon by pressing the watermelon flesh through a fine mesh strainer or use a blender and strain through the mesh strainer afterward. In a 6 to 8 quart stainless steel pot combine the watermelon juice, sugar and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the pectin all at once. Return mixture to a full rolling boil,  boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wire whisk to avoid clumping of the pectin. Take off heat. Skim off foam.
Ladle jelly into sterlized jars leaving 1/4" head space. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes at a full boil. Makes 6  half-pints.


Or for a firmer set:
3 t. Pomona Pectin
3 t. Calcium water (included in Pomona pectin box)
                                     *Pomona Pectin is available at the SB Canning store
Use the juice from the watermelon by pressing the watermelon flesh through a fine mesh strainer or use a blender and strain through the mesh strainer afterward. In a 6 to 8 quart stainless steel pot add the watermelon juice. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add the calcium water to the lemon juice and add to pot. Next mix the pectin with the sugar and add the pectin/sugar mix as you are stirring. Return mixture to a full rolling boil,  boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wire whisk to avoid clumping of the pectin. Take off heat. Skim off foam.
Ladle jelly into sterilized jars leaving 1/4" head space. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes at a full boil. Makes 6  half-pints.

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