Watermelon Chili Chutney

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Watermelon is so refreshing and at the peak of its season now so i think its a good idea to take advantage while the price is low to stock up and store some for the winter months.

We have spent the last month eating watermelon for breakfast with yoghurt, for lunch with local goats cheese and making endless fresh juices and home made granitas with mint and other herbs but it is time for something a little bit different.

I wanted to make a sweet chili jam using watermelon and I have combined two recipes and added chili and salt. In the Middle East, it is common to make a watermelon rind jam and I have combined the red flesh and rind of the watermelon to make this wonderful preserve. The result is something different with a great taste, texture and color and it is delicious served with cheese, fresh bread or water biscuits or alternatively with cold meats.

Although I deseeded the watermelon, I decided to leave a few seeds as this clearly identifies the fruit once it is in a jar or when it is plated. The chili can be adjusted according to your taste. I love it and hope you will try it out. It is especially good with hard cheese such as pecorino or Manchego.

1 kg watermelon rind, with the tough green skin peeled off
1 kg watermelon flesh put in a sieve and mashed to drain water out
2 kg sugar plus some extra sugar to sprinkle over watermelon rind
6 limes, squeezed juice and zest
50 g pectin
Crushed dried chillies, quantity to your discretion

Remove the green tough skin of the watermelon and cut into rough chunks. Sprinkle sugar over it and leave for 2 to 4 hours. Drain the liquid out.

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Take the flesh of the watermelon, deseed and cut into chunks. Place in a sieve and with a masher break it up allowing the juice to drain through the strainer. Save the juice and refrigerate it. It is delicious with some ice and lime zest.

Add the drained flesh to the chopped rind in a large cooking pot. i added a few seeds but this is optional. Add the sugar, juice and lime zest and heat gently until it comes to a boil and reaches 220 C. Add the pectin and cook for a further five minutes.

I used the saucer method for testing the setting point. Place a saucer in the freezer and test the preserve by putting a few drops on the cold plate. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it has reach setting point. If it is still runny, return to heat, boil and retest. The best color is achieved when the jam is not over heated for a long period of time, but this is a matter of preference. I have heard some people say that they like a darker color.

Finely chop as many chillis as you desire and stir me into the watermelon preserve.

Now you will need to sterilize the jars. Rinse them in clean warm water and allow them to drip dry and place upside down on an rack in the oven at 140C for half an hour.

Pour the jam into the jars preferably through a funnel. I wear latex gloves to prevent contamination. I pour the jam into warm jars while it was still warm.

If you are going to store the jam, I suggest placing a disc of waxed baking paper onto the jam before covering with a lid.

You will need to store the jam in a cool dark place.

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