Summer is a season of vibrant colors and refreshing flavors, and one fruit that embodies this essence is watermelon. With its juicy sweetness, it brings joy to picnics, barbecues, and lazy afternoons by the pool. But why enjoy watermelon only during the summer when you can capture its essence and preserve it for months to come? In this blog, we will explore the history of growing watermelon, discover its nutritional benefits, and provide you with a delightful watermelon jelly recipe to take the taste of summer with you all year long.
Watermelon Nutrition Facts
Watermelon is not only a delectable and refreshing fruit but also a treasure trove of health benefits. With its high water content of about 92%, this juicy fruit is an excellent natural source to stay hydrated and support the body’s essential functions that rely on water. Beyond hydration, watermelon offers a rich array of nutrients and plant compounds that contribute to overall well-being. For starters, a ⅔ cup serving of watermelon contains:
- 30 calories
- 0.6 grams protein
- 7.6 grams carbohydrates
- 6.2 grams sugar
- 0.4 grams of fiber
- 0.2 grams fat
Additionally, watermelon is full of healthful compounds like amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that have their own nutritional benefits.
Health Benefits of Watermelon
One such essential compound found in watermelon is citrulline, an amino acid known for enhancing exercise performance. By increasing the body’s production of nitric oxide, citrulline improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles during physical activity. Studies have shown that athletes who consumed watermelon juice experienced quicker recovery and reduced muscle soreness compared to their counterparts. Moreover, watermelon is a great source of vitamins A and C, which play vital roles in maintaining healthy vision, supporting the immune system, promoting collagen production, and protecting the body against harmful free radicals.
The vibrant color of watermelon is a result of the abundance of antioxidants it contains, such as carotenoids, lycopene, and cucurbitacin E. Lycopene, in particular, is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, including prostate and colorectal cancer, and it also supports eye health, potentially preventing age-related macular degeneration. Cucurbitacin E, another unique compound found in watermelon, shows promise as a natural anticancer agent by inhibiting tumor growth.
Notably, watermelon’s antioxidants can also help reduce inflammation and combat oxidative stress. In a study conducted with rats, those fed with watermelon powder exhibited a decrease in markers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein, further highlighting the potential anti-inflammatory benefits of this fruit.
How to Make Homemade Watermelon Jelly
There’s no doubt that watermelon is an amazing summer snack, and its flavor is so worth preserving for the entire year. That’s why we love this recipe for watermelon jelly. It’s simple and absolutely delicious. Of course, when you cook down a fruit and add sugar, you change the nutritional content, so this jelly doesn’t have the same healthful benefits as raw watermelon.
But it’s a surefire way to preserve the essence of summer, allowing you to enjoy the fruit’s flavors long after the season ends. You can use traditional canning methods to keep this jelly.
Ingredients and Materials:
- 1 Small Watermelon, equaling about 4 cups of fresh juice
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 5 cups granulated sugar
- 1 packet (3 oz) liquid pectin
- Tall pot
- Prepare the watermelon by removing the rind and cutting it into cubes.
- In batches, puree it in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Then, strain using cheesecloth to separate the pulp from the juice. If you have a juicer, that works great too!
- Whisk together pectin with one cup of sugar until thoroughly combined. This will help it incorporate into the juice. While you’re at it. Throw a plate in the freezer to start cooling, so you can conduct the plate test to see if your jelly is done later.
- In a large saucepan, combine the watermelon puree, lemon juice, pectin/sugar combo, and the rest of the sugar.
- Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
- Once the mixture is boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-30 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and carefully skim off any foam from the surface. If you are canning the jelly, pour it into sterilized jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of headspace. Seal the jars with lids and bands, and process them according to typical canning practices.
- If you want to keep it in the refrigerator, pour the jelly into a jar or Pyrex storage container and keep it in the fridge for up to three weeks.
How To Use
We won’t blame you if you want to slurp this jelly right off the spoon, but here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy this treat. Please let us know in the comments what delightful combinations you come up with!
Spread it on freshly baked bread or French toast for a refreshing breakfast or snack. Use it as a glaze for grilled meats like chicken or pork, adding a sweet and tangy twist. Mix it into yogurt or blend it into smoothies for a burst of watermelon goodness. Create a delightful summer dessert by layering watermelon jelly between sponge cake or using it as a filling for macarons or thumbprint cookies. Gift a jar of homemade watermelon jelly to friends and family, spreading the joy of summer flavors.
With this recipe, you can enjoy the essence of watermelon throughout the year, sharing its vibrant spirit with your loved ones. So go ahead, embrace the season’s bounty, and let the luscious taste of watermelon jelly transport you to the sun-kissed days of summer, no matter the time of year!