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Watermelon Jelly Is Summer in a Jar
Growing watermelon in your own garden is a fun and rewarding project. There is usually more watermelon than you can eat fresh or give away to family and friends. There are many watermelon recipes that will allow you to enjoy the watermelon year-round. This is one type of jelly you won’t be able to find at the grocery store. It also makes a wonderful homemade gift and is a great first canning recipe.
Making watermelon jelly and canning it allows you to save summer in a jar. The flavor is bright and sweet. Even those who don’t prefer the flavor of raw watermelon will like it!
The jelly recipe below will produce 4-5 eight-ounce jars. Try using different varieties of watermelon to achieve different colors and flavors. The jam pictured below was made with a sugar-baby watermelon.
- 4 cups of chopped watermelon (or 2 cups of watermelon puree)
- 3 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 package of no-sugar pectin
- Pots and pans
- Boiling water bath
- 8 oz. jelly jars for canning
- Canning lids and rings
- Set the jelly jars and rims out to prepare to can the watermelon jelly.
- Simmer lids according to the manufacturer’s directions and have the boiling water bath (canner) ready with boiling water.
- Cut open and deseed a ripe watermelon.
- Roughly chop the watermelon fruit into squares, discarding the rind and seeds (the rind can be saved to make watermelon rind pickles if desired).
- Place four cups of chopped watermelon into a blender and process into a puree. Four cups of chopped watermelon should yield about 2 cups of puree.
- Pour 2 cups of puree into a large sauce pot.
- Add the lemon juice to the watermelon puree, along with the pectin/sugar mixture. Stir vigorously to dissolve any lumps in the mixture. Turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once the mixture has reached a rolling boil (a boil that won’t be stirred away), add the remaining 3 1/4 cups of sugar.
- Stir vigorously until the sugar has dissolved into the jelly.
- Once the watermelon jelly reaches a rolling boil again, set a timer for 2 minutes. Boil the jelly for 2 minutes, then decant it into the jelly jars.
- Leave 1/4 inch headspace, and apply the sterilized lids and rings.
- Place the jelly jars in the boiling water bath canner and process for 10 minutes.
- Place on the kitchen counter to cool overnight, and test lid seals to verify each jar has sealed well (the lids should not flex up and down). Canned jelly will store in a pantry for 1 year.
- Place any sealing failures into the refrigerator and use them within 2 weeks.
Note: Mix 1/4 cup sugar with the package of pectin for sugar-free recipes. By mixing the sugar with the pectin, you will prevent the pectin from clumping when it is added to the watermelon puree.
Watermelon jelly can be used on toast or on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but it also has several other uses. Make cupcakes or a sheet cake, and add a layer to the middle to create a unique and wonderful watermelon-flavored cake. This jelly is a wonderful addition to scones at a tea party, or it can be used as the filling for thumbprint cookies/sandwich cookies.
Questions & Answers
Question: I made watermelon jelly, and I am waiting for it to harden. It still looks watery. What can I do?
Answer: When making watermelon jelly, it is important to use pectin for sugar-free recipes as it will create a more viscous jelly than regular pectin. Another step that can affect the ability of the jelly to form is the length of the boiling step. If your jelly has not formed after cooling on the counter, it is best to discard it and try again.
Question: When I make watermelon jelly, does it need to be canned?
Answer: If you are not going to can jelly, you will need to refrigerate it and use it within about a week of making the recipe. Canning preserves the jelly by creating a vacuum within the jar to prevent spoilage and makes the jelly shelf-stable.