A few weeks ago, a status update from my friend, Crystal, hit my Facebook wall - she said she'd made some dehydrated watermelon snacks.
Say what?? I like dried fruit and I have a Nesco dehydrator (that I don't use nearly as much as I should), but I'd never heard of drying watermelon.
I actually tried to talk Crystal into posting about it, but she said something like 'what's there to write about it - slice watermelon. Dehydrate it. Done!"
And that's about it, too.
A couple weeks later, I got a seedless watermelon about the size of a soccer ball in our produce box, and ate some of it fresh but Michael doesn't care for it and at some point, I'd had enough to eat and still had a lot of juicy red melon left.
I like my Nesco, because it is very easy to use - stack each tray - if you don't need them all, just leave some off, top it with the lid and set the dial according to what you're drying - it includes a temperature guide right on the lid for fast reference.
The fan that powers it is in the lid, but you can use it without power if you have a hot, dry place to just leave it, like a closed up car on a summer's day. Vents in the stacked trays will allow dry, hot air to circulate through it, with or without plugging it in.
Obviously, the time it would take would be a lot more variable that way, but I'm curious to give it a try some time!
I cut my watermelon into 1" thick slices, and then sliced of 1/4" slices from those, filling each tray of the Nesco and then topping it with the next tray. It wound up using all of them. The thinner the slices, the thinner (and dryer) the dried watermelon will be. if you want this to keep, you want it dry, not sticky and moist.
After it was filled, I topped it with the lid, set the dial for 135F, and left it alone for 8 hours. By then, the top two trays were dry and finished and the bottom two still needed another couple hours. This seems to be typical, since any moisture from the upper trays would drip down into the lower ones, so they're likely to be slightly damper.
The taste was really vibrant - like other dried fruits, the sweetness and flavor is ramped way up once the moisture is removed.
I popped these in a bag to store in the refrigerator, and have been eating them out of hand. Michael even likes them and decided his distaste for melon was about texture, not flavor.
I think bite sized bits of this would be really tasty on a green salad with some basil, cucumber and feta cheese, but I'm mostly happy to have a light sweet snack with no added sugar. A bite or two is enough to satisfy my passing sugar cravings.
I did this mostly on a whim, so I wasn't prepared but I want to do it again while watermelons are still available, and pickle the rind while I'm at it. If I practice a little bit of self-control, I could then have an at-hand bit of summer to tide me over on wintery cold days.
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