canning watermelon

Canning Watermelon – Can and Should You Do It?

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Watermelon, the quintessential summer fruit, is known for its refreshing taste and hydrating properties. With its juicy, sweet flesh, it’s no wonder that many people wonder if it’s possible to can watermelon.

Canning fruits and vegetables have long been a method of preserving seasonal produce, but can this method be applied to watermelon?

The short answer is yes. However, the process does pose quite a few challenges to retaining the fresh flavor and firm, crunchy texture. 

In today’s article, we will explore the possibility of canning watermelon and discuss whether it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Then, we’ll also guide you through the process of making watermelon jam and how long you can expect it to last. So grab a slice of watermelon, sit back, and let’s dive into the world of watermelon canning!

The Science Behind Canning

Before we delve into watermelon canning specifically, let’s understand the science behind canning.

Canning fruit is a preservation method that involves creating a sealed environment to prevent the growth of microorganisms and extend the shelf life of the fruit. The science behind canning revolves around heat processing and the creation of an airtight seal.

The first step in canning fruit is to select ripe and high-quality produce. The fruit is then washed, peeled (if necessary), and cut into appropriate sizes.

Next, the fruit is heated to kill any existing microorganisms. This step is crucial to ensure the safety and longevity of the canned product.

Heat processing can be achieved through various methods such as boiling, steam canning, or pressure canning, depending on the acidity and density of the fruit.

Once the fruit is heated, it is carefully placed into sterilized jars, and a liquid (such as syrup, juice, or water) is added to cover the fruit completely.

The jars are then sealed with lids and rings to create an airtight environment. As the jars cool, a vacuum is formed, causing the lids to seal tightly. This vacuum seal prevents the entry of new microorganisms, ensuring the long-term preservation of the fruit.

Can Watermelon Be Canned?

Watermelon has a high water content, which makes it a challenging fruit to can successfully.

The high moisture content poses a risk of spoilage and can result in a mushy texture when canned. Additionally, watermelon contains enzymes that can break down the fruit’s texture and flavor over time.

These factors make canning watermelon a less common practice compared to other fruits and vegetables.

However, there are a few methods that can be attempted if you are determined to try canning watermelon.

One approach is to make watermelon jam or jelly. By extracting the juice from the watermelon and combining it with sugar and pectin, you can create a sweet and flavorful spread.

canning watermelon

Alternatively, you can create watermelon pickles by marinating watermelon rind in a brine solution. While these methods don’t preserve the watermelon’s characteristic texture, they offer a unique way to enjoy watermelon flavors throughout the year.

Should You Can Them?

So, can watermelon be canned easily? While watermelon can be canned, the question remains whether it’s worth the effort.

Canning watermelon comes with several challenges, as mentioned earlier, and the end result may not be as satisfactory as expected.

The texture and taste of watermelon are best enjoyed fresh when it’s at its peak ripeness and juiciness. The natural crunch and sweetness of a fresh slice of watermelon are hard to replicate through the canning process.

Moreover, canning watermelon requires specific equipment and knowledge of canning techniques.

If you are new to canning, it might be more enjoyable to start with other fruits or vegetables that are better suited for the process. Apples, peaches, and tomatoes, for example, are commonly canned and offer more reliable results.

That being said, in our personal opinion, while it may be challenging, it’s worth the time and effort spent.

Canning Watermelon – How to Do It

Step 1: How to Choose the Best Watermelon for Canning

Selecting the right watermelon is crucial for successful canning.

Look for a ripe watermelon that feels heavy for its size and has a deep, uniform color. A heavy watermelon means that it is packed with juice, i.e. flavor! Tap the watermelon, and it should produce a hollow sound.

Avoid melons with soft spots or bruising, as they may affect the quality of the canned product.

Step 2: How to Prepare Watermelon for Canning

Start by washing the watermelon thoroughly under running water. Even though you won’t be using the rind, it could still introduce debris to the flesh through cross-contamination.

Cut off the rind and remove any seeds. Dice the flesh into small, uniform pieces. Any size works and it mainly depends on your preference and how you plan on using the watermelon.

For a variation, you can also create watermelon pickles by peeling the rind and cutting it into desired shapes.

Step 3: Cooking the Watermelon

Place the diced watermelon or watermelon rind in a large pot and add a sweet syrup made from a combination of sugar and water. You can also add spices like cinnamon or lemon zest for added flavor.

Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally, and cook for about 10-15 minutes. This step helps infuse the watermelon with the syrup and ensures a delectable taste. It also kills any lingering bacteria, as mentioned above.

Step 4: Cooling Your Canned Watermelon

Once the watermelon has cooked, allow it to cool slightly. Carefully ladle the cooked watermelon into sterilized canning jars (like these ones you should check on Amazon), leaving a half-inch of headspace at the top.

Wipe the jar rims clean, place the lids and rings on top, and tighten them.

Process the jars in a water bath or pressure canner according to the recommended time and pressure for your altitude and jar size.

After the jars have been processed and removed from the canner, let them cool completely on a clean towel or cooling rack. As they cool, you may hear the lids “pop” as a sign that the jars are properly sealed.

Store the cooled, sealed jars in a cool, dark place for later use.

How Long Do Canned Watermelons Last?

Canned watermelon, when properly processed and stored, can last for years!

canned watermelon

The shelf life of canned watermelon primarily depends on the quality of the canning process and the storage conditions. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

Proper Processing

To ensure long-lasting canned watermelon, it’s crucial to follow proper canning techniques. This includes using sterilized jars, achieving a proper seal, and accurately processing the jars in a water bath or pressure canner according to the recommended time and pressure for your altitude and jar size.

Storage Conditions

Canned watermelon should be stored in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations. A pantry or cellar with a consistent temperature is ideal.

Avoid storing canned goods in areas prone to high humidity or near heat sources, as these conditions can degrade the quality and shelf life of the product.

Shelf Life

Generally, properly canned watermelon can last for 1 to 2 years. However, it’s important to note that the quality and taste may gradually deteriorate over time.

The fruit’s texture may become softer, and the flavor may diminish. It’s recommended to consume canned watermelon within the first year for the best sensory experience.

Regular Inspection

Even when properly processed and stored, it’s essential to regularly inspect the canned watermelon for any signs of spoilage.

Check for bulging lids, leakage, off smells, or any visible mold. If you notice any of these signs, discard the contents immediately.

Remember, it’s crucial to prioritize safety when consuming canned goods. If you have any doubts about the quality or safety of the canned watermelon, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it.

In Conclusion

While watermelon can be canned, it poses certain challenges and may not yield the same satisfying results as canning other fruits and vegetables.

The high water content and enzymes in watermelon make it susceptible to texture and flavor changes during the canning process. Therefore, if you’re looking to preserve watermelon for long periods, it’s recommended to explore alternative methods like freezing or dehydrating.

However, if you’re determined to try canning watermelon, experimenting with watermelon-based jams or pickles can be a fun and creative way to enjoy its flavors throughout the year. 

Ultimately, the choice to can watermelon or not depends on personal preference and willingness to embrace the potential challenges. 

Related Questions

Can You Use a Water Bath to Can Watermelon?

No, a water bath canning method is not suitable for canning watermelon. Watermelon is a low-acid food, and water bath canning is typically reserved for high-acid foods.

To safely can watermelon, a pressure canner is recommended as it can reach the necessary temperature to ensure proper preservation and food safety for low-acid foods.

Are There Alternative Ways to Preserve Watermelon Other Than Making a Jam?

Freezing is a simple method where you can cube or puree the fruit and store it in airtight containers. Dehydrating watermelon slices or making watermelon fruit leather is another option.

Watermelon can also be turned into delicious pickles by preserving the rind. Each method offers a unique way to preserve watermelon’s taste and enjoy it throughout the year.

Is it Safe to Freeze Canned Watermelon?

It is not recommended to freeze canned watermelon. Canned fruits, including watermelon, have already undergone a preservation process that alters their texture and consistency. Freezing canned watermelon can further affect the quality, causing a mushy or undesirable texture when thawed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *