A few weeks ago we were hanging out with Kate Payne of The Hip Girl's Guide To Homemaking when she asked, "Hey, would you like some watermelon jerky?" Watermelon jerky?! We took a bite and haven't stopped thinking about it since. Whether you call it jerky or leather or dried watermelon or dehydrated watermelon, this was a surprisingly enjoyable treat. Drying the watermelon concentrated the fruit's sweetness and it was like a chewy candy – without any added sugar!
Kate used a dehydrator to make these addictive treats:
I sliced a quarter of the melon into 1/4"-strips or thinner if you can and then cut off the crescent-shaped rind portion from those slices and then made watermelon chips about the size of regular tortilla chips.
My Nesco dehydrator has a setting for fruit, which is 135 degrees F. I plugged it in and let it go overnight (~8-12 hours) and voila! A perfectly textured Jolly Rancher fruit leather!
We've been thinking of getting a food dehydrator for some time and this may have sealed the deal. Presumably one could also make this in the oven but it would be a lot less energy efficient.
Have you ever made dried watermelon using this or another method?
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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