Watermelon is one of those unsung jelly heroes. It's sweet and fresh and wonderful on toast, biscuits, and sandwiches. It's also the perfect way to preserve an over-abundant watermelon crop that might otherwise go uneaten.
I've been perfecting my watermelon jelly over the last two years and have finally come up with a recipe that is by far my favorite. Some recipes for watermelon jelly describe it as tasting like jolly rancher candies. Personally, I don't want my jelly to taste like fake over-sugared watermelon. To me, watermelon jelly should taste fresh and sweet. It's one of those jellies that has to be balanced just right so the flavor of the fruit is not overpowered by the sugar.
6 Cups of watermelon juice
5 cups of sugar
1/4 cup bottled or fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons of "Apple Cider Vinegar"
2 bags liquid pectin (you can use powdered, but be careful it tends to clump in this jelly if you just dump it in)
- First, find a nice, ripe, wonderful watermelon.
- Cut your watermelon into cubes and mash the cubes up into a juicy pulp. You can use a food processor, a blender, a hand blender, or a potato masher to accomplish this.
- Then you need to strain your juice to get rid of all the seeds and pulp. I personally use a mesh jelly bag, but you could use cheese cloth, or a strainer. If you cant get all the pulp out, don't stress. There is actually not that much pulp in a watermelon, but do try to remove as many seeds as you can so people don't have to pick them out of the jelly later.
- Put a stack of saucers in your freezer before you begin cooking so that you can test the set of your jelly later.
- Add your watermelon juice, sugar, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar to your pot and bring it to a full rolling boil that you can't stir down (about 10 minutes). *Note: I use apple cider vinegar to enhance the wonderful fresh flavor of the watermelon in this recipe and to add some acidity for preservation. You could use only lemon juice or use other vinegar, but it's just not going to give you that balanced taste that I've been gushing about. I personally use Bragg's apple cider vinegar because it is my favorite brand.
- Add your pectin and continue cooking for 1 minute (this may vary based on the type of pectin you are using. Check the recommended cooking times on you pectin box for best results)
- Check the set of your jelly on a cold saucer to make sure it's set the way you want.
- If it's too runny, continue cooking it for a few more minutes and check the set again.
- If it's still too runny you may need to add some more pectin.
- Ladle your hot jelly into prepared jars leaving a 1/4 inch head space and process in a water bath for 10 minutes (more or less according to your altitude).
See how beautiful and bright this jelly is! I'd love to try it with a yellow watermelon too if I can find one this summer just to see how the color turns out. The only thing missing is a pretty and informative label.
Luckily, I designed a really cute label that you can download and print out for your jars as well. I used a full sheet of printable label paper and cut out each watermelon individually. I'm sure you could also use regular paper and glue or paste them on as well. Don't forget to write the date on your label using the blank space on the left :)
If you decide to make this jelly or use my labels, I'd love to hear from you and know how it turned out. Happy canning!