I thought it would be pink.
That’s why I decided to make it. I thought little jars of pink sweetness would be so pretty…
But it’s yellow.
Not even a hint of pink.
Pretty strange, huh?
But how’s it taste, you ask?
In the words of my husband…
“It tastes like a friggin’ Jolly Rancher!”
It’s true. It tastes like watermelon candy. So even if the color’s off, the flavor is there.
I started with chunks of watermelon, mashed them down and cooked them gently for about five minutes to release the juices.
Next I strained the mashed, cooked chunks for around 2 hours. Might have been a bit longer.
While the watermelon drained, I got the other ingredients ready.
There aren’t many.
First – some lemongrass.
I know – lemongrass? We use it all the time in Thai cooking. But it’s rather unexpected in a jelly. The recipe says the lemongrass gives the jelly a unique flavor, or something like that…truthfully? I don’t really taste it in the final product. Maybe next summer I’ll make two batches – one with and one without – and compare them.
And then some white wine vinegar…
And lemon juice.
I had almost enough lemon juice, but ended up supplementing that with some lime juice.
Oh – and sugar, of course.
I combined everything in a pot and brought it to a boil.
A great big boil.
And then I added the pectin, and boiled it some more.
And then I poured the mixture through a strainer into prepared, hot jars and processed them for ten minutes. I had two 8-oz jars and six 4-oz jars.
(A strainer? Yes. Although the recipe doesn’t tell you to do this, I didn’t really want the bits of lemongrass in my finished jelly. Lemongrass is pretty fibrous, even when cooked, and I didn’t want that texture in the jelly.)
Now, I’ve written before about my annoyance with pectin in some of these jelly recipes I’ve been attempting…and this is just another example.
The jelly is too firm. At least, too firm for me. To my mind, jelly should, yes, be gelled, but it should also be spreadable. This stuff? You have to mash it with a fork. Kind of a problem, especially if you like your toast on the crispy side. See the crack in the top piece of toast? Yeah. Blame the jelly.
So, next time – either I’ll cut use less pectin or eliminate it entirely. I’ll let you know, but probably not until next summer when the watermelon is fresh.
In the meantime, here’s the recipe, just in case watermelon is in season in your part of the world.
Zesty Watermelon Jelly
from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
makes about five 8-oz jars
6 cups chopped watermelon, rind removed
1/2 cup white balsamic, white wine or apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp lemon juice
5 cups granulated sugar
1 stem lemongrass, chopped
2 pouches liquid pectin (each 3 oz.)
What to do:
1. In a large stainless steel saucepan, crush watermelon with a potato masher. Cover and heat gently over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and crush thoroughly.
2. Transfer to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth set over a deep bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for 2 hours. Measure 2 cups watermelon juice. If you do not have the required amount, crush more watermelon or add up to 1/4 cup unsweetened white grape juice.
3. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.
4. Transfer watermelon juice to a clean large, deep stainless steel saucepan. Stir in vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and lemongrass. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir in pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.
5. Quickly pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
6. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.