We grew a lot of watermelon in our garden this year. It was the first time I’ve ever done it, and was pleasantly surprised that the melons actually grew. They didn’t turn out as large as what we see at the store, but they taste great. The kids loved to watch the growth of the melons through the season. They were a little disappointed, however, to find little black seeds intermingled throughout the fruit.
This made me reflect a little bit. I grew up with seeds in the watermelon, and this wasn’t ever an issue. My kids, on the other hand, have had a different experience. They were use to getting the genetically modified watermelon with no seeds. In fact, our home grown watermelons were probably the first time they had seen a watermelon with seeds! Anyway, we had a lot of watermelon and not a lot of kids willing to eat it. My strategy to remedy the situation …… watermelon fruit leather! I did a little research and found that someone has made this before and gave their watermelon fruit leather recipe.
My wife told me not to bother, and that it would be impossible. Don’t worry, I didn’t let that deter me. I set out to make the best watermelon fruit leather humanly possible. I knew my kids loved watermelon flavored fruit roll-ups and fruit snacks. This seemed like a win-win scenario. I get to bust out the dehydrator, use up the plethora of watermelons, and make a great snack that the kids would enjoy. It turns out, as you will see, I should have listened to my wife at the beginning.
Here is my experience making watermelon fruit leather.
Step 1 – Scoop out the watermelon into a pot on the stove
Since the kids don’t like seeds, I devised a way to remove them. I would mash them up, then strain out the seeds. I thought the heat might help break down the watermelon. I think it did. I mashed up the fruit, and turned it into a boiling mixture.
Step 2 – Strain out the seeds
I used a cullender to strain out the seeds (much like I did when making blackberry jam). This did a great job of capturing the seeds. Unfortunately there was a lot of the fibrous part of the watermelon that was also strained out. If this fibrous watermelon meat was left in with the juices, the fruit leather may have turned out better.
Step 3 – Reduce the Liquid
With the liquid watermelon on the stove, I brought it to a boil for 30 minutes. This required constant stirring, and was a real pain.
When it was finished the volume had reduced by about 1/2, and had the consistency and look of tomato soup.
Step 4 – Dehydrate….Then Give Up Hope
I sprayed a non-stick coating on the dehydrating sheet and poured the mixture onto it.
The recipe I found on-line says they ran the dehydrator at 135F for 4 to 5 hours. So, that is what I was expecting. I checked it at 4 hours, and it wasn’t done. I checked it at 6 hours and it wasn’t done. I dehydrated that stuff for over 24 hours, and it was still a sticky paste. I lost hope and through the batch out.
This was an experiment that failed. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is just too much liquid in the watermelon to effectively dehydrate. Apples and grapes make a much easier base for fruit leather.
What has been your experience? Have you had success with watermelon fruit leather, and are just itching to tell me what I did wrong? Maybe I needed to reduce the liquid longer? Maybe removing the watermelon pulp was a bad idea? I would love to hear what you think about it.
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