September 23, 2015
They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what to do when you get watermelons???
Seems like an odd problem to have in Manitoba, as we are not know for the long hot summers that watermelons like. But this year, we successfully grew a bumper crop of watermelon. But what to do with 20 soccer ball sized watermelons? I was surprised to find that besides eating them fresh, there are a few ways of preserving watermelons.
- Watermelon juice
- Pickled watermelon
- Watermelon preserves or jam
- Dehydrated watermelon
As I can’t see adding cups and cups of sugar to watermelon to make pickles or preserves, I have opted to dehydrate and make watermelon juice.
First, you need nice ripe watermelons. Watermelons do not continue to ripen once picked off the vine. The best way to tell if your watermelon is ripe is to turn it over and check the spot on the bottom where the melon rested on the ground. It should be yellow – creamy to bright yellow.
To make juice, slice and peel off the outer green and white rind. Cut the juicy pink flesh into cubes and place in a large container. Using a hand held immersion blender, blend the flesh on low speed just until the melon is a soupy mixture but the seeds are not chopped up. Strain through a colander or food mill to remove the seeds and enjoy a refreshing glass of watermelon juice. This is a super easy way to use up a melon in a hurry and get a big jolt of vitamin C too.
Dehydrated watermelons sounds a bit strange given that watermelons are mostly water. What’s left after you remove the water? But ever curious, I had to try. Since I don’t have the power to run my dehydrator for hours on end (watermelon takes about 2 days to dehydrate) I opted for doing it in the oven.
First you slice the watermelon into 1/2 inch slices and remove the rind and seeds. Then place the watermelon slices in the oven on the lowest possible setting with the door ajar to let out the moisture. Since I am using the wood stove, I kept mine in the oven when it was warm but not hot and in the warming oven above the cooktop when the oven was too warm.
After two days, you are left with leathery pieces of dried watermelon similar to fruit leather. The end result is delicious with an intense sweet watermelon flavor. Apparently this is a good way of using slightly under ripe watermelons, so I will likely do again when the weather turns cold and I have no choice but to pick the watermelons, ripe or not.