Watermelon Jerky

Snack

Recipe

Dried watermelon is definitely a US sort of thing but always on the lookout for variety in my snacks, I decided to give it a try. Out of all the fruit I have trialled through my food dehydrator, this was a real surprise packet. The end product ‘Watermelon Jerky’ as opposed to ‘dehydrated watermelon’, looks like dried meat when cut into strips particularly with the reddish colour. Taste wise the end result is a concentrated hit of watermelon flavour. While fresh watermelon has a calorie count of just 30 calories per 100 grams, the dried product has 346 calories per 100 grams. While this isn’t as high as other fruits such as dried mango the sugar just seems to be so much more concentrated and as such, you aren’t going to eat a huge amount in a short sitting. Having said that I find it almost impossible to stop eating Watermelon Jerky and almost cleaned up the batch in just over a single day.

This recipe is pretty easy to make but given that watermelon is 92% water, the drying time (hence the name) is extensive and takes up a lot of space in the dryer for a relatively small amount dried fruit at the end. The plus here is that watermelon is one of the cheapest fruits on the market. While everyone has personal preferences when it comes to snacks, I’m sold on this one and will definitely be including it as part of my hiking menu on longer hikes.

Preparation

Preparing Watermelon Jerky is pretty simple.

  1. Purchase watermelon from your local supermarket. A 2.5 kg melon will end up providing 160 grams of  ‘jerky’. This melon also took up four full trays in my drying rack so unless you have a large dryer this is a good amount to work with. Most watermelons sold these days are relatively seedless but if there are any obvious black seeds remove them. The white seeds are edible and not noticeable in the dried product. In all honesty I couldn’t be bothered pulling the seeds out
  2. Cut off the skin and greenish rind leaving just the red flesh
    • 2.5 kg of fresh melon cleans down to approximately 1.9 kg of melon flesh
  3. Cut up the melon into your desired shape/size
    • I have tried all sorts of sizes and shapes and there is an optimum choice here. Go too small and you end up with thin slivers, go too thick and the drying time will push well past 50 hours
    • My recommendation is 1.5 cm x 1.5 cm x 10 cm although the length really doesn’t matter. It’s surprising how much the fresh melon flesh shrinks
  4. Space the melon out on the drying racks so they are not touching. Dry on a medium heat of 55-60° Celcius
  5. Turn for the first time at about 7 hours
  6. Continue to monitor the melon as it dries, condensing as you go. I found that four trays of fresh melon will dry down to one tray of jerky at the end
  7. Drying time is extensive and will be around 52-56 hours. This will provide you with a slightly bendy consistency that once cooled becomes almost crisp
  8. Store in an airtight container until use

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Drying Time: 52-56 Hours

The end result for a 2.5 kg watermelon is:

  • 1.9 kg of watermelon flesh
    • 30 calories per 100 grams
  • 160 grams of watermelon jerky when dried
    • 346 calories per 100 grams

Watermelon Jerky ingredients – watermelon, a knife and a dryer

Step 1: Remove the rind and green flesh away from the red flesh

Trays loaded and ready to go. Fresh watermelon takes up a lot of space so 2.5 kg of melon and rind is a good starting point

Watermelon after 7 hours drying – start condensing the fruit at this point

Dried Watermelon Jerky. I started with four trays and ended up with one. 1.9 kg of fresh watermelon flesh dries down to 160 grams of dried Watermelon Jerky

Different dried watermelon shapes. The longer strips work well

The end result Watermelon Jerky after 56 hours

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