Have you ever bought one of those "personal" watermelons in the middle of winter only to be disappointed by their lack of flavor and grainy texture? There's no comparison to the flavor that a fresh, late summer watermelon provides. If you've ever wanted to enjoy that flavor all year long, this watermelon jerky recipe is for you! Watermelon is mostly made of, you guessed it, water. When you dehydrate it, the flavor and sweetness get so concentrated, you'll think you're eating candy. I like to store it in freezer zippered bags to keep it fresh. Watermelon jerky makes a great hunting or hiking snack because it's lightweight and provides the carb boost you need on a long trek.
How to select a watermelon:
We've all seen someone at the grocery store knocking on melons to see if they make a hollow sound to determine ripeness. I've never been successful with that method. I choose my watermelon by turning it over to see if it has a flat, yellow spot on the bottom. If it does, this means it was ripened in the field and is ready to eat. If it doesn't, I keep looking!
How to cut a watermelon:
Cutting a large watermelon can be a daunting task. But if you have the right tools and a little knowledge, you'll be done in no time! I like to use a large cutting board that fits the whole watermelon. Having a sharp knife makes a world of difference when it comes to cutting a watermelon. We like to sharpen our knives with this sharpener.
Wash the outside of the watermelon thoroughly. Melons are notorious for harboring listeria. Even though you won't be eating the rind, the bacteria can be transferred from your knife to the edible part of the fruit when you cut it.
Cut the ends off of the watermelon to make a flat surface.
Set the watermelon on one of the cut ends. Cut strips of rind off the watermelon by starting from the top cut end. Keep going until all the rind has been removed.
Cut the watermelon in half lengthwise. Cut watermelon into thin slices ⅛"-¼" thick. Then cut slices into rectangles about 1 ½" wide and 4" long. The shape and size are less important than the thickness. The thicker the pieces are, the longer it will take to dehydrate.
How to dehydrate watermelon:
Since watermelon contains so much water, it takes longer than most fruits do to dehydrate. Depending on your dehydrator and the thickness of your slices, it can take 24-30 hours. Because it loses so much water, the dehydrator can become a sticky mess. That's where parchment paper comes in handy. It takes a little more work in the beginning to cut the pieces to the size of your dehydrator trays, but it saves so much clean up time. If you've ever found bits of jerky stuck to your dehydrator trays multiple uses later, you know what I'm saying.
Arranging watermelon slices in a single layer with a little space in between slices will help speed up the drying process. I like to check on the pieces a few times to flip them over and rearrange the trays. Some pieces may get done quicker than others so it's important to check.
When it's all finished, I like to store it in zippered bags in the freezer to keep it fresh and enjoy all winter long.
Watermelon Jerky Recipe
- Parchment Paper
- 1 watermelon
- Wash outside of watermelon thoroughly.
- Cut ends off of watermelon to make flat surfaces.
- Set watermelon on one cut end. Cut rind into strips by starting at the top. Keep going until all rind has been removed.
- Cut the watermelon in half lengthwise. Cut watermelon into thin slices ⅛"-¼" thick. Then cut slices into rectangles about 1 ½" wide and 4" long. The shape and size are less important than the thickness. The thicker the pieces are, the longer it will take to dehydrate.
- Cut pieces of parchment paper to fit dehydrator racks.
- Lay watermelon in a single layer on parchment paper lined racks with some space in between slices.
- Store in zippered bags in the freezer for maximum freshness.