Our family, my son especially, adores watermelon. The trouble is, when you get melons as giant as we’ve been getting in our Local Box, it becomes a challenge to eat it all before the sweet fruit turns bad. Watermelon jelly is a simple way to use up a bit of your stash and keep the ultimate reminder of summer available all winter long. Plus, homemade jellies make great holiday gifts.
Canning often sounds intimidating but it’s quite easy, especially if you follow the directions provided in your package of pectin. The task is made easier if you have specialized canning tools on hand, but you can easily improvise with a large stock pot, a funnel, and a pair of sturdy rubber-coated tongs.
You don’t need much whole watermelon to get the juice needed for this, so start out in small batches. If you make too much juice, use it to make agua frescas or margaritas!
The sugar used in the recipe might look like a lot, but until you get the basics of canning under your belt, it’s not recommended to make changes to ingredients – you want to make sure you have a safe product!
Makes approximately 6 half-pint jars
4 cups watermelon juice*
6 cups sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 packets liquid pectin (such as Certo)
*To get the watermelon juice, cut watermelon flesh into chunks and puree in a blender. Strain into a cheesecloth set up over a bowl, or use a jelly bag and stand. Let sit for about 2 hours to let the juice drip down. Don’t squeeze the cheesecloth or bag, or you might end up with some solids that will look ugly in your finished jelly.
Pour juice into a large nonreactive stockpot or dutch oven and stir in full amount of sugar. Heat to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
Stir in pectin and return mixture to a rolling boil and cook for 1 minute. If you have a candy thermometer, cook until jelly reaches 220 degrees.
Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon.
Ladle into jars, place lids, and screw on bands finger-tight. If processing, place in a water bath canner heated to boiling and process for 15 minutes. Remove jars and let cool on counter for 24 hours. If not all the jars have “pinged” (when sealed properly the lids will have suctioned down) re-process or store in refrigerator.
Note that jelly often can take two weeks to completely set. If your jelly still isn’t set after that, follow the directions included in your pectin box for re-cooking and processing.