Watermelon, only better

6 Sep

I did a lot of canning this weekend. A lot. This? Not even all of it. The list included

  • Blackberry spice jam
  • Blackberry plum jam
  • Blackberry apple conserve
  • Pepper Jelly
  • Ratatouille Pickles
  • Jardiniere
  • Sage white wine mustard
  • Pickled pears
  • Blackberry vodka/Pear Vodka
  • Canned tomatoes

Still, my “holy sh*@ is this good” moment came from something not canned at all. Preserved, yes. Canned no.

Dehydrated Watermelon

I’m guessing you are thinking something along the lines of “does watermelon, WATER melon, really work dehydrated?” Possibly even “????????”  Or maybe “get the f*$@ out of here.” That’s kind of where I started. But I was intrigued and having an over abundance of watermelons from our garden, I decided to give it a try.

Now, I like watermelon, but I don’t LOVE it. True, a cold, sweet, juicy slice is perfect on a hot summer day. And the juice does lovely things in a cocktail. But I’d not think my summer incomplete if I missed it entirely. So I was shocked when I discovered the wonder that is dried watermelon.  Dehydrating brings out the depth of flavor hiding under all that, well, water.  Think about it, when has adding water every actually enhanced the flavor of anything??

The watermelon leather has a deep, caramelly sweetness reminiscent of brown sugar. And though it loses the bright flavor that one generally associates with watermelon, it is nevertheless, very clearly, truly watermelon flavored.  I am in love. I could eat these all day long.  My clever daughter suggested putting cinnamon on them, and you know what? Also great. So my plan is to dehydrate watermelon every night for a week or so until I have a large supply of these treats to last through the winter. The original plan was to give them to Riley as lunch time treats. But I’m not sure I want to share. Even with her.

They are easy to make if you have a dehydrator, though I’d imagine you could do them in the oven too.

Simply cut your watermelon, trimming away the rind and removing seeds.

A seedless would be ideal, but the ones we grew have seeds. Lots of them. So I did spend some time deseeding.

Somehow I lost my fruit leather tray for my dehydrator, so I tried wax paper first.  Don’t. It’s a nightmare. The waxpaper melts (remember ironing fall leaves between two sheets?) and I spent a lot of frustrating time trying to peel it off.

Hoping to avoid having to wait to order trays off the internet, I tried parchment paper. Two trays I lined and sprayed with pam, one I simply lined.  Both worked! So if you do yours in the oven or if you also don’t have any/enough fruit leather trays parchment paper is the way to go.

The instructions I found on the web suggested 1/4 inch thickness for your slices. My first go around they were a little thin. You don’t want them too thick because they will take forever to dry, but to thin doesn’t work either. I’d go with a generous 1/4 inch to a scant 1/3 of an inch thick.

Layer them without touching in your dehydrator (or oven sheet) and, if you want, sprinkle cinnamon or other spices on the slices.  Set the dehydrator for 135 degrees and let them go.  Eight to 12 hours is the suggested time, and again, I think it depends on the thickness of your slices. I let mine go over night and into the morning. But one batch went 14 hours, and another 8 and frankly, they were both fine. Just check for done-ness and remove when ready.

I am totally smitten with these. As is my daughter. Suddenly we are thinking about what other fruits we can dehydrate and what it will do to them. Somehow I think it wont be quite the surprise delight that the watermelon is, but oh the fun in trying!


One Response to “Watermelon, only better”

  1. brthomas August 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Watermelon slices marinaded in red wine or lime juice before drying makes sweet and sour watermelon chip jerky that is even better!

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