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How to Dehydrate Watermelon

Dehydrate watermelon, and you will have the best-tasting watermelon candy or taffy! It’s a fun snack for kids of all ages that you can feel great about serving your kids!

Watermelon slice on a blue plate with napkin and slices of dehydrated watermelon jerky

Summertime is prime time for watermelon. But do you ever feel like you have watermelon fatigue? When you’ve had enough, yet you still have a half watermelon just sitting in your fridge, begging to be eaten?

There’s a way to extend the life of the watermelon without having to finish it off tomorrow!

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Dehydrated watermelon is also known as:

  • Watermelon Jerky
  • Watermelon Candy
  • Watermelon Taffy
  • Watermelon Chips

How to Pick a Watermelon

Dehydrated watermelon starts with a good-tasting, ripe watermelon. If it’s mealy or tasteless, you’ll end up with a sugary-sweet dense leather that doesn’t taste good at all.

Pick a watermelon that feels really heavy for its size and is a good rich color. Expect to find a patchy area where it is yellow/brownish. This is fine – it’s where it was allowed to ripen on the ground instead of being picked early.

Why Dehydrate Watermelon?

Is dehydrated watermelon good? It is!!

Dehydrating watermelon is a shelf-stable way to keep watermelon and make your kids happy with a natural fruit leather that doesn’t require cooking or blending or mixing with anything else! It is that good!

Its natural sweetness is enhanced and concentrated in a taffy or fruit leather texture that is amazing!

And it’s a healthy candy alternative you can feel good about giving your kids!

However, I will warn you watermelon is one of the most controversial snacks to create in your dehydrator. People either absolutely love it or hate it; few sit in the middle.

Learn More: 25+ Ways to Use Leftover Watermelon

Watermelon sliced, halfed, and served on blue dinnerware

How to Dehydrate Watermelon

Before we get started – remember that time is relative in dehydrating. The timeframe I give is a window of drying time, but yours may take much longer depending on your machine, your home’s humidity, your watermelon, and other factors.

Quick Instructions:

Slice 1/4″ thick and dehydrate at 135°F/57°C for 10-14 hours until dry and leathery.

Equipment:

Equipment you will need:

  • Dehydrator
  • Break Knife or another serrated edge knife.
  • Cutting board and a few towels – this can get messy!
  • Dehydrating Mesh, parchment paper, or fruit leather trays. Mesh works best as it allows the most airflow.
  • Airtight container for storage. That is if you actually have leftovers because you’ll probably eat it all!

LEARN MORE: Tips for Buying a Dehydrator

Cutting fresh watermelon into slabs in 3 steps for dehydrating

Instructions:

  1. Slice the watermelon into 1/2″-1/4″ slices or chips.
  2. Use your knife to cut around the flesh and remove the rind.
  3. Cut the watermelon slices into shapes you prefer. Planks work well for me.
  4. Place pieces onto tea towels to drain a bit (I put mine on my dehydrator trays over the sink and just let them dry out for about fifteen minutes).
  5. Place watermelon pieces on trays, using parchment paper if desired.
  6. Dry at 135°F / 57°C for between 8-18 hrs until dry and leathery, with no signs of stickiness.
  7. After 4-5 hours, flip pieces to help reduce sticking.
  8. Condition if using for storage. If eating in the next week, no conditioning is necessary, but storage in the fridge is recommended.
  9. Store in an airtight container for 3-6 months. You may like to wrap your pieces in wax paper or parchment paper to make storage easier.
  1. Place dried food into a jar to allow movement. Do not add moisture absorbers or any other desiccant.
  2. Shake once a day for 5-7 days.
    • Look for signs of sticking, clumping, or moisture buildup.
      • If you have clumping or sticking to the side of a jar, if it is removed with a gentle shake, it is fine.
      • If it takes significant shaking to remove it or break it up, place back into the dehydrator to dry more.
    • If you see mold of any kind, throw food away and sanitize the jar.
  3. Once complete, store in an airtight container in a dark, cool, dry place if possible.

Seasoning suggestions:

To shake it up a little, try adding some of these to your fresh watermelon to create different flavor profiles before drying:

  • Try adding a little bit of salt;
  • Squirt some lime juice on slices;
  • Sprinkle a little mint on top and press into flesh;
  • Add some Taijin or other spicy seasoning mix.
Slabs of fresh watermelon then dehydrated watermelon on Cosori dehydrator trays

These are not sticky or wet, it’s just the bounce of light on the sugars. These are fully dried.

Oven Instructions:

  1. Follow steps 1-4 above
  2. Place on a parchment paper lined cooling rack over a cookie sheet. This allows airflow and help keep the fruit from overdrying on the bottom.
  3. Dry at 140°-170° (67°C) for 4-6 hrs, keeping a close eye on burning.
  4. Turn pieces halfway through the process to help prevent sticking.
  5. Condition. If eating as a snack immediately, no conditioning is needed.
  6. Store in an airtight container.

Note: If your oven does not reach 170°F, go as low as possible and crack the door to allow heat to escape. Be aware of any small children or mobility-impaired individuals.

How to Store Dehydrated Watermelon

As mentioned above, storing watermelon taffy in parchment paper is great for anything longer than a few days.

pieces of dried watermelon on parchment paper

No matter how dry you keep it, it is prone to high humidity and the sugars will absorb it and become sticky.

You can then store the parchment in an airtight container, or even zip-top bag if you don’t plan long-term.

LEARN MORE: Learn More: 25+ Ways to Use and Preserve Watermelon

Rings of watermleon rind on a cutting board

Ways to Use Watermelon Rind

More Fruit Leathers to Try:

Questions about Dehydrating Watermelon

Can you dehydrate seedless watermelon?

You can use regular or seedless watermelon to dry. The underdeveloped seeds in seedless watermelons are fine to leave.

You don’t need to pull the watermelon seeds from a regular watermelon as they might naturally remove themselves during the cutting and dehydrating processes. But you can do it if you prefer.

Best watermelon to dehydrate?

Summer fresh watermelon is the absolute best watermelon to dehydrate as it is at the peak of flavor and freshness. Regular watermelon is better than seedless, but a good-tasting watermelon, no matter the variety, is awesome.

Flavor profiles will intensify with dehydrating, so it will get sweeter, but a bad-tasting watermelon won’t necessarily be a great-tasting sweet treat later.

How long does dehydrated watermelon last?

Use your dehydrated watermelon within a year, but 3-6 months is the best storage time.

What does dried watermelon taste like?

Dried watermelon is like a burst of fresh, sweet flavor with a texture like thick fruit leather or taffy, without the gross chemical aftertaste of processed commercial watermelon-flavor like candies.

Can I dehydrate any melon?

Yes! Cantaloupe or muskmelon, Persian melons, and honeydew melons all lend themselves to a sweet, tasty, taffy-like fruit leather that is perfect for dehydrating.

Dehydrating Basics & Journal book and ebook mockup
Watermelon slice on a blue plate with napkin and slices of dehydrated watermelon jerky

How to Dehydrate Watermelon

Dehydrate watermelon and you will have the best tasting watermelon candy or taffy! Great for snacking for kids of all ages!
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Preserved Food, Snack
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 338kcal

Equipment

  • Break Knife or another serrated edge knife.
  • Cutting board – this gets messy!
  • Parchment paper (or fruit leather trays)
  • Airtight container

Ingredients

  • 1 Watermelon

Instructions

  • Slice the watermelon into 1/2″ slices
  • Use your knife to cut around the flesh and remove the rind.
  • Cut the flesh into shapes you prefer
  • Place pieces onto tea towels to drain a bit (I put mine on my dehydrator trays over the sink and just let them dry out for about fifteen minutes)
  • Place watermelon pieces on trays, using parchment paper if desired.
  • Dry at 135°F / 57°C for between 8-18 hrs until dry and leathery, with no signs of stickiness.
  • After 4-5 hours, flip pieces to help reduce sticking.
  • Condition
  • Store in an airtight container for 3-6 months.

Video

Darcy’s Tips

Choosing:
Pick a watermelon that feels really heavy for it’s size and is a good rich color. Expect to find a patchy area where it is yellow/brownish. This is fine – it’s where it was allowed to ripen on the ground instead of being picked early.
Preparation suggestions:
  • Try adding a little bit of salt. Be gentle, it can intensify with drying.
  • Squirt some lime juice on them before drying.
  • Sprinkle a little mint on top.

OVEN INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Follow steps 1-4 above
  2. Place on a parchment paper lined cooling rack over a cookie sheet. This allows airflow and help keep the fruit from overdrying on the bottom.
  3. Dry at 140-170° for 4-6 hrs, keeping a close eye on burning
  4. Turn pieces halfway through the process to help prevent sticking.
  5. Condition. If eating as a snack immediately, no conditioning is needed.
  6. Store in an airtight container.
Note: If your oven does not reach 170°F, go as low as possible and crack the door to allow heat to escape. Be aware of any small children or mobility-impaired individuals.
Condition: Place in a jar, shake it around every day for 5-7 days. If you find it begins to stick together and can’t easily be separated, or are seeing signs of moisture, put the watermelon back into the dehydrator to dry some more. Conditioning is only necessary for the watermelon you intend to store for more than a week.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 1260mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 70g

Nutritional information is an estimation only. Nutrient information for dehydrated foods is based on fresh. Use 1/4 of the servicing size for the same nutrient information. Thus 1 Cup of fresh fruit has the same sugars as 1/4 dried.

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar for Sue Brittain Sue Brittain says:

    5 stars
    I’ve dried Cantalope and it turned out like a taste of heaven. I like the idea of adding flavors to it.

  2. Avatar for Tammy Bryan Tammy Bryan says:

    I’m wondering if you can make watermelon powder? Would you just dehydrate till they were crisp?

    1. It’s mostly sugar, so while you can, don’t expect to be able to store it. It needs to be as dry as you can, ground patiently – and still may clump on you alot.

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