Summertime is prime time for watermelon. In fact, I can’t even imagine buying watermelon in the middle of winter that came from across the earth. It’s just wrong. So wrong. We eat as much watermelon as we can get, not only for it’s dietary contributions, but because it just tastes so darned good when it’s perfectly ripe and in season (but a mealy watermelon? ICK!). We invariably end up with watermelon fatigue, though, and need to find a way to store the leftovers in a way that doesn’t end up as a fuzzy science experiment in the back of the fridge.
Thus… watermelon candy. Sure, it’s just a fancy name for dehydrated watermelon, but of all the products we dry, this comes closest to being like candy, without all the preparation of trying to create fruit leather blend, etc.
So let’s get started!
How to Dehydrate Watermelon
Pick a watermelon that feels really heavy for it’s size and is a good rich color. Expect to find a patchy area where it is yellow/brownish. This is fine – it’s where it was allowed to ripen on the ground instead of being picked early.
This is how *I* do it (or better yet my son!) I cut 1/2″ -3/8″ slices of watermelon, then do a quick cut around the inside to remove the rind. Easy peasy. I cut the discs in strips then cut the strips down into about 2-3″ pieces.
Then I set the slices on my dehydrator trays over the sink. This gives the pieces a chance to drain a little if they are really watery. Once done, I slip into the dehydrator and set it to 135F for about 8-10 hours. Of course, times may vary depending on the water volume in your watermelon, the strength of your dehydrator, the humidity level in your home, etc. After about 6 hours, I turn the pieces over so that both sides can get an equal chance to dry. This is one fruit that I make sure to leave a little space between because there is a lot of moisture coming out.
You can dry in the oven at 140F for about 15-20 hours. If your oven doesn’t go that low, you can prop the door open. I don’t recommend oven drying for fruit because it heats up your house, is dangerous to leave an oven door open for long periods of time, and ties up your oven for so long.
A helpful tip: Don’t make your pieces too thick. I slice them in half if I think they’re too thick. For me, the thicker pieces get spongy and gummy, not a great texture feeling. When done properly, your pieces dry into something like fruit leather.
I take the trays out of the dehydrator and lift off the pieces, but set them back down. Do you see the dark cross hatches in my trays? That’s here the sugars from the watermelon have adhered the tray/protector together. It’s not damaged, but it does let you see that things get a little sticky 🙂 It washes well in warm soapy water!
Let the pieces cool completely. I find that mine are always a bit tacky, so just storing in an airtight container can leave them stuck together. If yours are really sticky, you’ll want to throw them back in for awhile longer.
I then roll mine up in parchment paper, sort of like a commercial fruit rollup. You can use wax paper, too. Perfect little bit-sized pieces of watermelonny goodness, just like a piece of candy. To me, it is one of the fruits that gets and even more intense flavor after dehydrating.
Here’s the thing. For the purposes of this blog post, I forbade everyone in my house to partake of this goodness so that I could get pics. Rarely, and I mean rarely does our watermelon candy need to be stored for long. People keep sneaking pieces left and right. So I can’t tell you how long this will store for sure. We never have it around long enough to figure that part out. It’s suggested 2-4 weeks in storage, and that you can even freeze it (but I’ve never been able to).
Your thoughts — what other fruit do you love to eat fresh from the dehydrator?
Tools you might need:
Now…what to do with all that leftover rind….