I have already posted the traditional recipe for Glyko Karpouzi a few years ago but here’s a different approach, making it with mini watermelons and more fragrance.
Unfortunately I did not have some pickling lime, so I did not use it this time and as a result, it was not very crunchy. However, if you do have pickling lime, you can follow the first steps, shown in my above recipe.
Real watermelons from old seeds are deep red in colour, with black seeds and are very aromatic, sweet and delicious. I would prefer them any time but you rarely find real watermelons any more as the majority of them are grafted from gourds.
However, these huge watermelons, when ripe are quite good in taste but unfortunately here in Greece you have to buy it whole and a big one is around 10 kilos. In some supermarkets they do cut watermelons in half but still when shopping at the farmers’ market, I won’t go to the supermarket just to buy some watermelon or if I do, it’s still too much for us now that we are only the two of us. Our fridge is small, and apart from the fact that it occupies a shelf by itself, we have to be eating at least a kilo a day to get rid of it before it goes bad.
In recent years small watermelons have appeared in the Greek market. These watermelons are much more expensive than their gigantic cousins but for small families, like ours, a small watermelon is a good solution although it does not compare in taste. The skin of these mini watermelons is too thin for traditional spoon sweet but when I tried it, I noticed that it was very tender so I decided to give it a try, leaving a small layer of flesh on as well.
In order to make this preserve you need a small watermelon about the size of a regular football. Leave about ½ cm red flesh on it (see update below). Watermelon rind is of course tasteless, so add your favourite spices which will be absorbed by the peel.
As you may see in my recipe I used cinnamon and cloves and apart from my favourite fragrant rose geranium, I also added rosewater (or you can use blossom water as well). The addition of pomegranate syrup is optional but I added it, as apart from additional flavour, I also wanted to add a little colour to the rind. The result was a very aromatic watermelon preserve but as you may also see, visually it’s much more appealing than the traditional yellowish to green flesh.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes, depending on your stove*
- 1 kilo (2.20 lbs) watermelon rind (peeled)
- 4 cups sugar
- 4 cups water
- 1/3 cup lemon juice (2 juicy lemons) divided
- 4 fragrant geranium leaves
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- ¼ cup rose water or blossom water
- ½ cup pomegranate syrup (optional)
- Peel the skin of the water melon and cut it into 1 inch pieces.
- Place in a bowl with water to cover it and add 2/3 of the lemon juice. Leave it for 3 – 5 hours.
- Add water (use the one you soaked the watermelon with lemon juice), sugar, fragrant geranium leaves, cinnamon and cloves in a pot and bring to a boil. It will take 2 – 3 minutes.
- After ten minutes of boiling, remove the cinnamon and cloves and any foam visible on top. Leave the fragrant geraniums and add the rosewater, pomegranate syrup and the watermelon rind. It will take 2 – 3 minutes again to come to a boil again. When it reaches boiling point, cook for 15 more minutes. Leave it on the ceramic stove top until it cools.
- Next morning put it on the heat again and boil for 10 more minutes or until the rind is soft.
- Add the remaining lemon juice and let it cool on the ceramic stove completely before storing in sterilised jars.
Serve chilled, as it is with Greek Coffee and a cold cup of water or add it on top of Greek yoghurt, ice cream or puddings.
*Note: The cooking process was made on a ceramic stove, which usually continues cooking after you turn off the heat. If using a different method, like gas for example, you should adjust time of cooking accordingly.
Update 2014: This is the first time I made any preserve using a candy thermometre.
This year when I bought a watermelon, its peel with thick, just perfect for making the preserve. I used the same recipe as above, only this time I used a candy thermometre, which I recently bought.
What I did is I put the peels (leaving some of the fruit on) in water with lemon juice for several hours and then used that water in which I added sugar and spices, as above.
I stirred it until the sugar dissolved and cooked the watermelon until I could poke it with a fork and felt soft.
I removed the fruit in a colander and let it drain and put back the syrup in the pot.
I boiled the syrup until it reached 105C / 220F.
Taking into consideration that the boiled fruit had already absorbed syrup, by adding it to the set syrup, that syrup would be mixed and make the syrup watery again. So, I put the fruit back in the pot, which made the temperature drop and boiled it again, so that the two syrups would be combined. I boiled it again until it reached the above temperature for a second time.
My conclusions about using a thermometre is that it is useful for someone who has never made preserves before. As I have been making preserves for many years, I will probably not use it again but surely I will need it for other recipes.
You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.
Other relevant recipes:
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,