Give me fruit and I’m going to make jam. In under an hour. That was the culinary challenge I accepted at an Eat, Write, Retreat food bloggers conference, several years ago. The fruit? Watermelon! Now, there was something I’d never done before. And since our theme at the time was Cinco de Mayo, it called for a bit of Mexican flare. Thus, Spicy Watermelon Jam was born!
It has since become a real favorite at Freakin’ Flamingo and the farmers markets I bring it to, and now, after three years, I’m sharing the recipe with you! It’s easy and pretty quick to make (compared to a lot of other jam recipes), very low added sugar, and I think it really highlights the versatility of watermelon! I’m also sharing some ideas for a variety of fun and tasty uses for it, that I and some of my customers enjoy.
Watermelon is at its peak of the season right now – my grocery store’s prices are at their lowest. And you can buy watermelon in your grocers’ produce department already cut up, all year long, so there’s nothing to stop you when you want to make some of this spicy fruity goodness for your holiday or football get togethers! If you’re into canning and preserving, you may want to make an extra-large batch and water-bath can the jam in Mason jars so you can keep it on the shelf, ready and waiting for your next inspiration!
Give it a try and don’t forget to Think Outside The Jar! Let me know what you come up with, too!
Spicy Watermelon Jam
(yields about 3-1/2 to 4 cups)
- 4 cups ripe watermelon, cubed and seeded
- 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers (depending on heat desired)
- 4 tsp. Pomona’s Universal Pectin + 5 tsp. calcium water *
- 1/4 cup sugar
- pinch of salt (about 1/8 tsp)
- 1 – 2 large limes (yielding about 2 Tbs zest & ¼ cup juice)
- 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
Place a couple of small plates into the freezer.
To adjust the heat in this recipe, taste your jalapeños first. These days, I’ve found that they vary in heat from extremely mild to very hot – sometimes in the same lot. Knowing the heat of the peppers you’re using will affect just how hot this jam will be, and you can adjust it to your taste.
Using tongs, roast the jalapeño pepper over gas flame until blackened. Place the pepper into a small dish, cover with plastic wrap and allow to steam for about 5 minutes. Peel under cool running water. (See Roasting Peppers Tutorial for alternate methods)
While the pepper is roasting and steaming, puree the watermelon. Pour the puree into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, or until the puree is reduced by about 1/3. Add the calcium water and continue boiling. *Important: If you are canning this jam, add 1 Tbs of lemon juice to the jam recipe when adding the calcium water!
Slice open the jalapeño and remove the pith and seeds. Finely chop and stir into the watermelon puree.
Combine the pectin powder with the sugar & salt. Stir into the boiling watermelon mixture until dissolved. Boil for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Perform a gel test by placing a teaspoon of the mixture on one of the frozen plates and return to the freezer for 2 minutes. If the mixture wrinkles when pushed with the tip of a spoon, proceed to the next step.
Add the lime juice, lime zest, and chopped cilantro to the watermelon mixture, return to the heat and bring back to a boil for another minute. Pour into a heat-safe container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Use within 2 weeks.
*(Recipe Note: I only use Pomona’s Universal Pectin in my jam and jelly recipes. Each box consists of 2 packets: one smaller packet that contains the calcium powder to be mixed with water – 1/2 tsp. calcium powder mixed with 1/2 cup of water (that’s the “calcium water”), and one larger packet that contains the pectin powder.)
Small-Batch Canning Instructions:
*Important: If you are canning this jam, add 1 Tbs of lemon juice to the jam recipe when adding the calcium water! This is so important, that I’m repeating myself!
This recipe may be doubled if you want to make more to give as gifts or for future use.
- Place a stock pot filled about 2/3 with water on the stove and bring to a boil. Make sure that there is a rack or a pot holder in the bottom of the pot, so your canning jars do not come into direct contact with the bottom of the pot, itself.
- Sterilize the appropriate number of jars by placing them in the boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes.
- Heat the jar lids in the boiling water for a minute or two.
- Empty the water out of each jar, then fill with the hot jam, leaving 1/4″ to 1/2″ headroom at the top. Place a hot lid on top of the jar and screw on the lid ring, finger-tight. Place the filled jar back into the pot of boiling water and boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove the jar(s) from the boiling water and place on a towel or newspaper-covered surface to cool and seal. You should shortly hear the *ping* or *pop* of the lid sealing. When completely cool, store on a shelf or in a cupboard, away from heat and direct sunlight. If a jar does not seal within 24 hours, refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.
Okay, now what do I do with it?
I’m so glad you asked!
One of my favorite snacks is cream cheese and pepper jam (or jelly) and crackers. It’s as easy as spreading a bit of cream cheese on your favorite cracker and topping with a small dollop of jam!
To make 1/2 cup of dressing, whisk together:
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs. Spicy Watermelon Jam
Alternatively, you can put all of the ingredients into a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake it up vigorously.
Watermelon Glazed Fish:
Timing depends on the size and thickness of the fish you use, as well as your chosen cooking method, so follow your fish monger’s instructions or the package directions for cooking times and your favorite method.
Season a fish filet of your choice with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bake, grill, or pan-fry for several minutes on one side. Turn the filet over and generously brush Spicy Watermelon Jam on the cooked side. Continue cooking until the fish is cooked through. Brush with additional jam, if desired.
Here, I pan-fried, over medium heat, Red Snapper filets about 1-inch thick in about 1 Tbs. of grapeseed oil for 2 minutes on the skin side. After turning them over, I brushed the jam on the skin side and allowed it to cook for about 4 minutes more.
Hot Wings or Spicy Chicken Tenders:
Fry or bake the wings according to your preference. When they’re cooked through, but still hot, put them in a large bowl and toss with several spoonfuls of Spicy Watermelon Jam to coat well. Serve with additional jam on the side for dipping.
Here, I dredged six boneless, skinless chicken tenders in 1/3 cup flour mixed with 1/8 tsp of freshly ground black pepper and 1/4 tsp sea salt. I then pan fried the chicken in about 1/4″ of grapeseed oil for about 3 minutes on each side, drained them on paper towels, and tossed them with 2 Tbs. Spicy Watermelon Jam.
You need to try this, because I know you CAN. (See what I did there?)
For dozens of more beautiful watermelon recipes, both sweet and savory, and more information about this incredibly delicious and versatile fruit, visit Watermelon.org. They also have all sorts of promotions, contests, and more, so be sure to “Like” and get notifications on their Facebook page, and follow @All4Watermelon on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, for the latest inspirations!This post was sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board. All opinions and recipes are my own, as always. So, what else is new?