How to Freeze and Properly Thaw Watermelon to Get That Summer Flavor Year-Round
Here's our step-by-step guide to freezing everyone’s favorite melon, plus how to freeze watermelon juice and recipes for turning frozen watermelon into drinks, desserts and other refreshing treats.
Watermelon may be the taste of summer, but with a little planning, prep and help from your freezer, you can enjoy its juicy sweetness all year long. Yes, that's right, watermelon is freezer-friendly. Freezing won't allow you to bite into a crisp and tender wedge of watermelon in the middle of winter, but it will allow you to make a Creamy Watermelon Smoothie or Watermelon Gazpacho. And it's a super-simple process. Read on for everything you need to know.
How to Freeze Watermelon
As with all food, freezing watermelon when it's ripe and fresh is essential. There's simply no point wasting precious freezer space on fruit that belongs in the compost heap. And, just in case you are wondering, freezing a whole watermelon is best avoided—think of the freezer space it would require!
Before you freeze watermelon, remove the rind and the seeds. Watermelon seeds get rock hard in the freezer and are much easier to remove from fresh rather than frozen fruit. Seedless watermelon, of course, eliminates this step.
Next, think about how you want to use the fruit, keeping in mind that freezing changes the texture of watermelon, giving it a more pureed consistency. Cutting watermelon into chunks or scooping it with a melon baller will give you nice, evenly sized pieces, but if you plan to make smoothies or sorbets, randomly sized chunks are just fine.
Related: How to Cut Watermelon
After cutting the fruit, arrange it in a single layer on a parchment-paper–lined baking sheet and freeze for several hours until solid. Once frozen, watermelon should be moved to freezer bags for longer-term storage. Taking this extra step will allow you to grab exactly what you need from the freezer rather than a massive chunk of melon. As always, label and date your freezer bags. Watermelon can be frozen for about eight months, which will just about take you to summer, when it's in season again.
How to Thaw and Enjoy Watermelon
The best way to thaw watermelon is in the refrigerator, but depending on how you plan to use it, you may want to only defrost it partially or maybe not at all.
As watermelon thaws, it will have a more pureed consistency, which is why previously frozen watermelon doesn't make good fruit salads. If you want to snack on chunks, only thaw watermelon partially so it stays firm. Partially frozen watermelon is also ideal for frozen blender drinks, as well as frozen desserts and treats.
More Ways to Use Frozen Watermelon
You can also use frozen cubes and balls of watermelon as fruity ice in drinks, but you'll want to use those straight from the freezer. Chunks of watermelon can be frozen with other fruit if you plan to blend them together to make smoothies, or combined with other fruit and fruit juices to make popsicles.
Another option is to freeze watermelon juice. Simply blend chunks of watermelon (no seeds, of course) in a blender and place in an airtight container, leaving an inch or so of space at the top for expansion. The juice should keep for about two months and can be flavored or enjoyed on its own.