It is difficult to eat a large fruit like watermelon at once. Chances are you will always have leftovers that need proper storage. You would not want it to go bad before you sit down to relish the leftovers.
So, can you freeze watermelon?
The short answer is yes, you can. Watermelon can be frozen, but the quality might not remain the same. It could be a little mushy after thawing. I suggest eating whole chunks while it is still fresh. It might not taste as good later. But you still do not want to throw out the leftovers. Freeze it and enjoy it while it lasts.
How to Freeze Watermelon?
Freezing watermelon requires a knowledge of the proper methods of storage. Below are the steps to freeze it well. Follow them meticulously, and you should be able to enjoy watermelon for a long time.
Washing and Cutting
First, wash the fruit with water and let it dry. Rinse it to remove dirt and debris. Clean vegetable brushes can help with this as well. Pat the fruit dry with a paper towel. Wash your hands properly before touching the fruit. This way, you avoid contamination.
Slice the watermelon with a knife. You can cut it into quarters for easy handling. Lay them on a stable, flat surface like a countertop or a cutting board. You can also cut it into thin slices. Consider removing the rind before chopping the watermelon. Chop one end off to make the fruit stand, then remove the rind from all sides.
Removing the Seeds
Remove the seeds and the rind from the pieces, and lay them on a cutting surface again. Slide the knife across the pink flesh and the green and white skin layer. This way, you will be separating the rind from the fruit. Before cutting the leftovers, pick out the remaining black seeds, and throw them away. The rind has nutritional benefits, so make some pickles, juice, or fries with it if you want.
Once you remove the rind, divide the watermelon into cubes or balls. Try keeping all the pieces nearly the same size. This makes sure they freeze uniformly. Use a melon baller if you want to make balls out of it. It looks like an ice cream scoop and can be used after slicing the fruit in half.
Remember, you can freeze the wedges and slices, but they take up a lot of space. Not to mention, they also lose their texture when frozen, so it is a good idea to freeze them. You can also freeze watermelon puree or juice as ice cubes or in a container. Don’t forget to blend and strain the watermelon before tossing it into the freezer.
Packing the Fruit Dry and Unsweetened
Spread the pieces over a baking sheet, and keep parchment paper on it. This keeps the fruit from sticking to it. Ensure the pieces are kept in a single layer so that none touch each other. You can keep the pieces directly on the baking sheet. But a baking mat or parchment paper will cause less mess. If the fruits touch each other, they will freeze together. This will make it harder to pack and defrost them later.
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Flash Freezing the Pieces
Freeze the fruit for 2 hours till you feel the pieces get firm. Move the tray to the freezer. Set a timer. Once ready, the pieces will be frozen solid. There’s a way to check if it is frozen properly. Simply press into them with your fingers. If it forms a dent, it needs more time to freeze.
Removing the Watermelon
Having trouble removing the frozen fruit from the baking sheet? Use a spatula. But usually, the heat from our hands does a good job of breaking them out of the tray. Alternatively, let them sit outside the freezer for a while, and they could come off.
Freezing the Pieces
Move the pieces into freezer-free containers and label them. Transfer them into a resealable container or a plastic bag. Leave some headspace empty at the top if the watermelon expands later. This is done to avoid a situation where the container could burst open. Note down the date of freezing on the label.
Freeze the pieces for up to a year. They can be kept indefinitely in the freezer at 0 °F or −18 °C. But the fruit will deteriorate in quality over time. 10 months into the freezing process, it will lose some of its original quality. If you freeze watermelon this way, it softens and, in the process, loses some sweetness. The best use of it then is a smoothie or other liquid recipes.
This is another alternative method that could also work out. Wash and cut the fruit and transfer it into a mixing bowl. Add some white granulated sugar to the pieces. Stir them well with a mixing spoon or simply with your hands.
This works especially well with watermelon balls and cubes. The sugar works as a preservative when some of the original sweetness gets lost in the process.
Freezing the Pieces
Once the pieces are coated well with sugar, transfer them into resealable containers or plastic bags. Leave some space for it to expand, label the containers with the date, and toss them into the freezer. No need to freeze the fruit before storing it like this. Freeze the fruit for up to a year at 0 °F or −18 °C. Remember, it might start losing its quality past the 10th month.
Making a Syrup
Take a small saucepan, and boil water and sugar in it. Mix 4 cups or 950ml of water with about 3/4th cup white sugar. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue occasionally stirring till the sugar dissolves. Alternatively, you can replace some sugar with equal parts honey or corn syrup.
You can also use fruit juice. Replace the water with some Orange juice, pineapple juice, or ginger ale. Consider skipping the syrup-making process altogether. Pour the juice into the container with the pieces directly. Store the syrup in the fridge for an hour, and transfer it to a plastic container. Leave it in the refrigerator till it is cool to touch. Do not rush the process. If you can still feel the syrup being hot, leave it to rest till it cools down to room temperature.
Cooling the Syrup
If the syrup is hot, it can cook the watermelon. So, give it time to cool down. Give it more time if you feel it getting warm on your fingers. Bring together the watermelon and the syrup gradually in a container. Make sure it is freezer-safe. Pour 120 ml of syrup first, and then the watermelon. Now add the leftover syrup till the fruit is submerged completely.
Once again, leave some space at the top of the container if the fruit expands when frozen. This is how you make a syrup pack. Alternatively, submerge the fruit in juice to make a juice pack.
Keep it submerged in the syrup. To store it well, wrap a wax paper tightly over the top of the container and seal it. This way, the watermelon will stay down in the syrup and never dry up. Put a label on the container with the date of freezing.
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Freezing the Fruit
Store this for 12 months at 0 °F or −18 °C. When you want to use it, thaw it in the fridge. It will last for 4 days till it starts going bad. Pack fruits this way, and they will be great for fruit cocktails and desserts. It preserves the sweetness and quality of the fruit. This method is akin to canned fruit.
Tips For Freezing Watermelons
Now you know the different methods to freeze watermelon in a way that it lasts a long time. But it might still help to be aware of the best practices of freezing the fruit. Below are a few tips that can help freeze watermelons:
1. Wash the Fruit
Oftentimes it seems silly to wash the rind, since you will probably be throwing it away anyway. But I always suggest washing the watermelon rind before cutting the fruit into pieces. This is to wash off any residual pesticide, pathogens, and similar toxins present on the surface.
The toxins often pass through the fruit into the flesh after cutting. Run the fruit under cold water and wash it thoroughly to avoid this
2. Choose A Good Quality Fruit
Get your hands on the best watermelon you can find. Pick a watermelon that shows signs of ripeness, be that firmness with a little give, or a yellow spot towards the bottom, or heaviness. Do not freeze ones which are already on the path of rot. If your cut watermelon has been out of the fridge for days, throw it out. The same holds true for ones with dark or soft spots.
3. Churn It Into A Puree
You can blend the watermelon chunks into a puree if you do not want to waste freezer space. You can toss the puree into smoothies and beverages over time. Pour the puree into ice cube trays. Leave some space for it to expand. Freeze them solid, and toss them into freezer bags or other freezer-safe containers.
4. Use the Rind
Did you know watermelon rind is edible? It is relatively less sweet and more on the crunchier side. You will still enjoy the juiciness of the flesh in the rind. You can add some chopped rind into stir fries or salads. Do not forget to wash the rind thoroughly under cold water.
Equipment Needed for Freezing Watermelons
1. Baking Sheet
You can get any kind of baking sheet you might have lying around at home. It can be of a non-stick or a shiny material. I suggest getting one with a rim. This helps avoid the frozen fruit from sliding right off when you move the sheet in and out of the freezer.
Ensure you choose a baking sheet that fits into your freezer. Sometimes freezers are too narrow to insert a baking sheet. In such cases, use freezer-safe plates.
2. Parchment Paper
You will need parchment paper to line your baking sheet before you freeze the fruit. This ensures the watermelon does not stick to the baking sheet. This holds more if you are slicing the fruit into thin pieces.
Alternatively, you can choose wax paper. I suggest not using aluminum foil. The compounds in it can cause an unpleasant reaction in the presence of acid. While watermelon might not be highly acidic, it is still better to err to the safe side.
3. Melon Baller and Sharp Knife
Depending on what you can get your hands on, you can choose either of two things. If you plan to cut the melon into cubes or slices, a sharp knife will be apt. If you plan to scoop out spheres and balls to freeze, a melon baller is a good idea.
How to Defrost Frozen Watermelons?
Take out the pieces or the syrup from the freezer and toss it into the fridge. Defrost the pieces in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Give time for the pieces to become soft again, and add them to the dish.
When thawed, the pieces will be softer than fresh pieces. Eat them as is, or make smoothies and other similar drinks out of them. You can choose to use them even before they thaw completely. This is especially true if you plan to make a liquid dish out of them.
The defrosted pieces will last you 4 days when refrigerated. If it gets soft, smells rancid, or has green moldy spots, toss them into the bin.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. What is the best way to preserve watermelon?
Ans. The best way to preserve watermelon is to cut it into cubes or slices. Then place in an airtight container and freeze. This will help keep the watermelon fresh for up to 6 months. Make sure you buy fresh watermelons to preserve them well for longer.
Q2. Does freezing watermelon make it sweeter?
Ans. No, it is quite the contrary. Freezing watermelon does not make it sweeter. In fact, freezing watermelon can cause it to lose some of its sweetness and flavor. So if you want to enjoy the sweetness of the fruit, consider having it fresh.
Q3. How long will watermelon last in the fridge?
Ans. A whole watermelon can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Cut watermelon will last up to five days stored in an airtight container. Make sure you follow the best storage practices for them to last longer.
Q4. Can you eat expired watermelon?
Ans. No, it is not safe to eat expired watermelon. Once the watermelon has passed its expiration date, it could contain bacteria or other contaminants that could make you ill. So if you notice a rancid smell, green moldy spots, or a mushy texture, it is time to toss them out.
Q5. Why we should not eat watermelon empty stomach?
Ans. Eating watermelon on an empty stomach can cause digestive discomfort. This includes bloating, cramps, and diarrhea. It can also cause excessive gas production and an increase in blood sugar levels. This can be dangerous for people with diabetes. It is best to eat watermelon with food to help slow down the digestion process.
The Bottom Line
Freezing watermelon is not rocket science. All you need to do is ensure you are adhering to the freezing steps. If there’s a chance you can relish it cool months later, why not make the most out of it?
Do not keep it at room temperature for a prolonged period. Chop the watermelon into pieces of your preference, and toss them into the freezer as soon as possible. But if you want to have it fresh, there’s nothing better.