Watermelon Jelly with Balsamic & Mint

If there are still watermelons at your farmer’s market, this one is a keeper.  I was intrigued, but a little dubious, about the amount of balsamic vinegar in this recipe, and we all know that I do not have the best luck with jelly. I have to say, however, that this turned out to be quite delicious in addition to being rather beautiful.  Tai gave it his patented “This is horrible. Don’t even try it; I’ll suffer and eat it all.”

Despite my (rare) use of commercial pectin here, the half-pint jars are still a leetle wiggly; the 1/4-pint jars seem to be set nicely.  Marisa over at Food in Jars recently made a watermelon jelly that took a week to set, so I’m hoping that all of my jars will set up eventually. There is plenty of acid in the recipe (bear in mind that watermelon is a low-acid fruit (pH of 5.2 – 5.6) so you should not take any liberties with the amounts of acid) which generally helps to activate the pectin, as well as more sugar than I usually include, all working to help the liquid watermelon juice achieve a gel. Either way, this is worth a try; as I said it was surprisingly delicious; the balsamic vinegar contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the watermelon, and the gorgeous red-flecked jelly would make an impressive gift (I attribute the red flecks to my rebellious squeezing of the jelly bag; I love when my break-the-rules nature actually pays off!).

Adapted from Zesty Watermelon Jelly  in The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, J. Kingry & L. Devine, eds.

———————————————————

Watermelon Jelly with Balsamic & Mint

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 personal-sized watermelon (about 5 – 7 lbs)
  • 1 tsp dried mint (or 1 tbsp fresh)
  • 3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tbsp lemon juice (bottled for consistency of acidity)
  • 1 package regular powdered fruit pectin (I used Ball)
  • 3 cups sugar (organic white beet sugar), divided
  • large pinch of sea salt

METHODS

  1. Wash the melon, slice in half, and scoop out the pink flesh into a large, shallow bowl. (Save the rind for pickles.). With a potato masher, mash the watermelon flesh thoroughly, then transfer to a jelly bag suspended over a large bowl (if your watermelon is seedless, you can skip the mashing; simply puree the flesh in a blender or food processor, then transfer to the jelly bag). Allow to drip undisturbed for about 2 hours (I squeezed the jelly bag on this one; it doesn’t seem to make a difference and my jelly was nice and clear). Reserve watermelon pulp for another use (stay tuned for an easy watermelon sauce recipe!).
  2. Prepare  canner, jars and lids.
  3. Measure the collected juice (My yield was 6 cups, which I reduced by boiling down to 3 cups). The recipe is based on 3 cups of watermelon juice; if you have more or less, adjust the amounts of lemon juice, balsamic & sugar accordingly. Transfer the juice to a large (at least 6-quart) stockpot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat; add dried mint in a tea infuser or cheesecloth sachet, then continue to boil over high heat until juice is reduced to 3 cups (or, if you are starting with 3 cups, proceed to next step).
  4. Add the balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. In a small bowl, mix powdered pectin with 1/2 cup sugar; add to the stockpot, stirring briskly to dissolve.  Add the remaining 2 and 1/2 cups sugar and the pinch salt, stirring to dissolve.  Bring back to a boil over high heat (juice will foam up substantially) and continue to boil until the foam thickens a bit and an instant thermometer reads 220 degrees F, about 5 – 10 minutes. Remove mint. Cook at 220 degrees F for 1 minute; turn off heat, skim foam and ladle hot jelly into hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a  boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields about 4 and 1/2 cups.

OPTIONS

  1. The Ball recipe called for 1 stalk of lemongrass, added directly to the jelly; I love the idea of lemongrass, but I did not grow any this year, so I substituted mint. I’m not sure the mint really came through; next time I would either skip it, or double the amount.
  2. The Ball recipe also called for 5 cups of sugar to 2 cups juice, so I should have added 7 and 1/2 cups sugar; blech.
  3. My jelly was not beautifully pink, even though I opted for white sugar this time. I don’t know why – the vinegar & lemon maybe? It does have these gorgeous specks of bright red watermelon pulp; I attribute this to squeezing of the jelly bag (breaking the law, breaking the law!).
  4. Watermelon is a low-acid fruit, with a pH of 5.2 – 5.6; make sure you do not alter the proportions of watermelon and acid (vinegar & lemon juice).
  5. Run the watermelon pulp through a food mill to remove seeds; use it to make granita, leather, or an easy watermelon dessert sauce.

STORE

Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.  Refrigerated, use within 2 months.

SEASON

Summer.

Advertisements

6 comments

  1. Mmm, yum! I too was intrigued by Marissa’s recipe and made watermelon jam the same day as she posted it. I now wish I waited a bit and tried your recipe instead. Balsamic with watermelon sounds amazing.

  2. I *almost* brought another watermelon home from the farmer’s market today; thinking about a jammier version, with pulp, and lime juice in place of balsamic. Maybe just a whisper of tequila… But thinking on the bushel of tomatoes, the pears, the nectarines macerating in the fridge, I refrained.

    And brought home a cantaloupe instead. (t’s a sickness.)

  3. Pingback: an unschooled life

  4. Pingback: 10 Must-Try Watermelon Recipes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: