Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Means Watermelon

I love watermelon.  Sweet, juicy, those teeny seeds you can spit at whoever or whatever is nearby, fat and green-striped...what's not to love?

Unfortunately, they are rather difficult to grow in my garden.  Usually, summers here are too short and too chilly to grow the big green monsters that I love.  Oh, you can grow small, cold climate varieties, but they seem insipid to me.  Not the sweet, sugary melon I love, by any means.  Plus, they vine all over and when you have a small yard with a lot going on, it is hard to dedicate the garden space for something that likely won't yield any fruit.  Sigh.  It is one of the greater sadnesses in my life, this lack of watermelon growing ability.

All is not lost, as the farmers market I frequent pulls in watermelon grown on family farms, in climates where the big ones can grow.  (I'm talking Michigan, here.  Not Guatemala.)  The down side is, well, I live buying an entire watermelon usually has wound up in half of it going to the chickens.  The girls love it almost as much as I do, but it just seems a bit sad to miss out on melon.

Imagine my joy when I found a recipe that used up exactly half of the big watermelon I bought yesterday!  Oh yes, it was a beautiful moment when the angels sang and white doves flew in a peaceful sweep across a field of golden...watermelons.

Well, perhaps not.

It was still a glorious moment.

This morning, using half of my lovely coveted watermelon, I made Watermelon Jelly.

Yes, you read that right.  Watermelon.  Jelly.

Isn't it pretty?  So pink-ilicious.  I can hardly wait to try it.  (It needs to gel some more.)

I think this will be wonderful, when the cold winds blow and the only watermelon to be found is ridiculously expensive, from a foriegn country, and tastes like old socks.  See?  Jelly is a much better alternative.

Watermelon Jelly (from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)

You'll need: 6 cups chopped watermelon, rinds removed; 1/2 cup white wine vinegar; 4 Tablespoons lemon juice; 5 cups granulated sugar; 1 stem of lemon grass, chopped *or use a little bunch of lemon verbena leaves, which I got from the garden, chopped finely*; 2 pouches of liquid pectin.

Place the watermelon in a large nonreactive pot, and mash with a potato masher.  Bring to a low simmer over medium-low heat, simmer for five minutes.  Remove from heat and crush thoroughly (I used my immersion blender), then pour into a damp jelly bag set over a large bowl.  Allow to drip for two hours.  Measure out 2 cups of watermelon juice, and put juice into nonreactive pot.  Add vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, and chopped herbs.  Bring to a hard boil over high heat, then add the pectin.  Stir constantly and boil hard for one minute.  Remove from heat, skim off foam, and pour into hot jars.  Fit with lids and bands, and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

This should make about 6 small half-pint jars of beautiful pale blush jelly.  You could always save the rind and pickle it, but the girls had to get their cut so mine went out to the chickens.

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