When you think of a symbol for summer, the first things that pop into your head are probably a beach, sunny skies, and a juicy slice of watermelon. The only bad thing about watermelons is how large they are, which makes knowing how to preserve watermelon a smart way to utilize as much of the fruit as possible.
Of course, maybe you’re like us and think a bigger watermelon is better because it gives you that much more fruit to eat. Yum! There are tons of options for preserving watermelon.
Before you try finding the best ways to preserve watermelon, you have to harvest or purchase fruit that’s ready for eating.
Watermelon season typically lasts from May through September, though the best time to harvest fresh watermelon is from the middle of June to late August.
There are many types of watermelon, but no matter what kind you choose, they all have similar characteristics that signal that they’re ready to go to your home. Look for dull and waxy skin free from cuts and dents.
The stem is ideally turning brown in color and dry, and the entire melon should feel heavy for its size. If you’re unsure of the ripeness based on the appearance, flick the melon and listen for a resounding thud.
Benefits of Watermelon
This refreshing snack isn’t only fun to eat. Watermelon has lots of nutritional benefits, too. It contains as few as 40 calories per one cup of melon and is high in vitamins A and C.
Watermelon is 92 percent water and helps keep your body hydrated on hot summer days. It also contains lycopene, a compound found to help prevent some types of cancer, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduce stiffness in arteries.
It also lowers inflammation, stress, and muscle soreness while improving digestion. If those weren’t enough reasons to learn how to preserve watermelon, you’ll be happy to know that watermelon helps produce collagen to keep your hair and skin healthy and moist and protects the skin from sunburn.
It seems like nature made watermelon specifically for those spending time outside during the hottest months of summer.
Ways to Preserve Watermelon
When you bring that heavy watermelon into the house you may wonder does watermelon go bad. Sure, like any produce, it can spoil if not properly preserved.
There are a lot more ways to preserve watermelon than you may know. Although there are standard techniques people use store melons, there are also more creative techniques to keep watermelon fresh and that turn your watermelon into a treat you may have never considered.
Storing Watermelon at Room Temperature
The most popular way to store melon is usually at room temperature. Putting a whole watermelon in the refrigerator reduces the nutritional value and takes up a lot of space.
If you don’t plan to cut your watermelon when you get home, place it on the counter in a dark, cool place.
How to Preserve Watermelon that’s Cut
We think the best way to preserve watermelon is to cut it and store it in the fridge, just like you store avocadoes in the fridge for use within a few days. If you have half a watermelon, protect the entire melon half by covering it tightly with plastic wrap, making sure no air touches the inside fruit.
The plastic wrap helps preserve the fruit while stopping it from soaking in other smells and flavors lingering in your fridge.
If you chopped your watermelon, there is an easy and safe way to store it as well. The best way to store cut watermelon is in an airtight container in the fridge. The fruit loses its sweetness after three or four days, so eat it quickly.
Preserving Watermelon in the Freezer
Many fruits and veggies remain fresh when stored in the freezer. Can strawberries be frozen? What about avocados and watermelon?
If you didn’t think you could preserve fresh watermelon in the freezer, think again. To make frozen watermelon, start by cutting off the watermelon rind. Remove all the green and white parts until only pink is showing.
When freezing watermelon, cut the melon into two-inch cubes or slices. Place the pieces on a cookie sheet, so they don’t touch and freeze them so that the watermelon juice doesn’t make the chunks stick together.
Once the pieces freeze, store them in an airtight container or freezer bag and set it in the freezer for around six months. Throw a few melon pieces into smoothies, on top of ice cream, or in a summer spritzer.
Freezing is also one of the best ways to preserve squash and other vegetables and fruits. It’s quick and easy.
How to Preserve Watermelon Rinds
It seems like a waste to throw so much of the rind away. This part of the melon seems inedible, but that’s far from reality. There are many recipes for watermelon rind preserves or, our favorite, watermelon rind pickles.
Cut the peeled rinds into one-inch cubes. Pour the canning salt and three cups of water into a large bowl, add the rinds, and let them soak overnight. Drain the rinds in a colander and rinse with cold water.
Put the rinds in a large pan and fill the container with cold water until the rinds are just covered. Cook the rinds on medium heat for ten minutes and drain.
In a Dutch oven, mix the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, and one cup of water and simmer for ten minutes. Remove the large solids from the pickling mixture and add the rinds and lemon juice to the pan.
Bring the pickling mixture to a simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the rinds are translucent. Fill pint jars with the rind mixture and tightly seal the lids.
Submerge each jar in boiling water and process the jars for five to ten minutes. Remove the hot canning jars with a jar lifter and let cool for about five hours before touching them. Ensure all the tops seal properly and store the jars in a cool, dark place for one year.
How to Make Watermelon Jelly
Another of the tasty ways to preserve watermelon is to turn it into a jelly. This method is a fun way to keep the taste of summer in your house and is a jelly flavor that isn’t too common.
To make watermelon juice, add chunks of watermelon to a food processor or blender and blend until there are no chunks. Strain the juice to eliminate the seeds and pulp. In a large stockpot, stir the watermelon and lemon juice, sugar, and gelatin.
Bring the pot to a boil. Using a digital thermometer, allow the mixture to reach 220°F. Remove the stockpot from the burner and pour the mixture into your jelly jars. Place the lids on tightly and set them in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.
Carefully remove the canning jars from the hot water with a jar lifter and let them sit on the countertop for a day before checking that all the lids have sealed correctly. Store the jelly in a dry, cool, place for one year.
Watermelons are the fruit of summer, and preserving watermelon is much simpler than people think.
There’s no reason to cut up an entire melon and watch it rot in your fridge if you don’t have time, or stomach room, to eat it all. Watermelon is a tasty treat that can be made into popsicles, slushies, jellies, and more.
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