Monday, July 15, 2013

Toast Topper #22: Watermelon Curd

While I was in the process of trying to use up all the leftovers from school, I started to hit a wall when it came to the actual flesh of the watermelons I found myself with. Obviously, jelly got made and canned, but I wondered what - if anything - else I could do with the puree I had made. Then I thought of last year's Vegan Strawberry Curd and the thought started to trickle down into action. I was going to turn my container of pink watermelon "water" into salmon-coloured curd.

Watermelon CurdI had to do a few things differently with this batch though. Watermelon is not overly sweet on it's own, and without due care doesn't take kindly to cooking - it is, after all, 90% water (however, I have seen recipes deep frying and grilling it). On the other hand, watermelon also lacks the acid of citrus used in traditional curds with egg, so if I went the classical route all I'd wind up with is pink, bland scrambled eggs. Not pleasing. Plus, adding eggs to the mix would defeat the whole "shelf life promotion" angle I was going for, not to mention seriously hinder it's uses in baking (a good deal of my "eaters" are vegan). So I took a cue from the strawberry recipe (thanks again, Carla!) and used a starch thickener and gentle heat to get to the end result.

Because of the high water content in the melon, making this curd required a good deal more starch than standard, and I opted for a blend of starches for better texture. More sweetener (in this case, both sugar and liquid stevia) and acid (a whole lemon) was also required for proper flavour, and to liven up the end result (and pay homage to the boozy original I had made) I whisked in an ounce of my stepbrother's homemade Meyer lemon Limoncello.

Watermelon Curd on Spicy Cheese CrackerAfter cooking, cooling and about an hour in the fridge, I couldn't wait any longer to try it - I dug in with a tasting spoon and licked. Interestingly, it didn't taste like watermelon, nor lemon... it was a totally unique, unusual, but no less delicious flavour with a tang that in some way reminded me of a Jolly Rancher candy. Spread onto spicy cheese crackers (recipes forthcoming), it was a combination that worked so well it was almost sinful!

What's left of it is now in the fridge - and I have some recipes that use it up too, don't worry!

Have you ever cooked with watermelon (and what did you make if you did)? Or were you (like me) totally unaware that it could be cooked?

Watermelon Curd
Makes about 2 cups, 16 (2-tbsp) servings
2 cups pureed watermelon (about 4 cups cubed pieces)
1/2 cup sugar
4 full droppers liquid stevia
pinch sea salt
zest of 1 lemon
½ cup cold water
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp arrowroot starch
3 tbsp tapioca starch (not granules)
2 tbsp Limoncello
  1. Mix the watermelon, sugar, stevia, salt and lemon zest in a small pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer briskly, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the water, lemon juice and starches in a small cup and add to the hot mixture.
  4. Bring back to a bubble and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened - about 2-3 minutes.Pour into a jar and chill before serving.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 44.7
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 0.4 mg
Total Carbs: 10.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.2 g
Protein: 0.1 g