While making finger foods for a recent outdoor birthday party, I had two recipes I had wanted to try for several years. Although they weren’t really recipes, they both were a bit labor intensive. After doing food prep one whole Saturday, far into the night, I turned one of the tasks over to my son, JDawg.I did one of those mother things: I called him to come over and pick up the tables and chairs for the party and take them back to his house where the party was being held. Then I casually asked him how he’d like to carve a shark out of a watermelon for me. He actually was totally into creating the sea creature, since he’s had plenty of experience as the family carver of pumpkins every Halloween.
We discussed several pictures I’d printed and agreed that a lower jaw opening was most attractive, or should I say scariest? Then having the watermelon cut into bite sized pieces spewing all over was a given. We decided the person who’d also sprinkled gummy fish all over the pile of watermelon had a great idea going. JDawg left with the watermelon tucked under his arm and I went fishing.
I went off to the grocery store late at night, looking for gummy fish. Bad last minute idea. There were gummy bears and gummy worms and all kinds of gummy blob things, but no gummy fish. I finally bought a bag of short gummy worms and decided they could be water snakes. And so they became the snakes that would be spewing out of the shark’s mouth along with the red watermelon chunks.
JDawg did us proud with an amazing watermelon shark that we used as a centerpiece on one of the tables. With black olive eyes and a shark fin, he was a believable shark and was a hit. Pictures were taken, watermelon was eaten, it was the fish formerly known as fruit.
My other task was another watermelon idea, this one made out of limes and Jello. Several sites had the recipe and directions to make them and I read all of the comments to make sure I knew what I was getting into. I did see several comments that complained about the bitterness or sourness of the Jello once it was set. Some of the replies to the comments said they should have made sure all of the insides were removed from the lime before pouring in the Jello.
I had assumed maybe the ones who complained of bitterness were expecting sweet treats and weren’t fans of more sour flavors. I assumed we would like them as we are fans of sour flavors and using less sugar in some kinds of treats. I assumed wrong and will admit it. They weren’t wrong, these suckers were bitter! Bitter with a capital “B”!
I spent a lot of time making these little Jello watermelons and they were truly adorable. I had cut the limes in half and used a glass juicer to extract all the lime juice to make limeade at another time. I hadn’t noticed my glass extractor bowl had a tiny chip in the edge and I slashed my wrist but good, along with giving it an acid bath from the lime juice that immediately got into the cut. Oooooh that hurt! I was extremely annoyed with that accidental slash and burn. Up to that point the lime juice had already been burning my hands, without having any cuts on them. I hadn’t realized lime juice was so powerfully acidic it sort of eats through skin!
Wrist cleaned and bandaged securely, I next spent an hour or so carefully turning the limes inside out and peeling off the remnants of the sections from the skin so that they were pristine and white inside. I was still assuming that the cleaner they were, the less chance they had of being bitter in taste. My limes were spotless and white inside.
I made the strawberry Jello and set it in the fridge to begin to firm up, per directions. I got busy with other things and forgot the Jello, so it was probably further on its way to setting up than it should have been. But I did carefully fill the lime halves after setting them in a muffin tin to keep them even and balanced. I had 8 halves, almost perfect for one box of Jello made using a cup of boiling water and a half cup of cold water. I set the muffin tin into the fridge and let them set up overnight.
The next day we packed up the foods to take to the party and I placed the little half watermelons into a plastic container with a lid. At the party I sliced them in half, and realized the people who had commented on how difficult they were to slice and keep perfect looking were also right. The skins were very tough and leathery, but eventually most of my slices were straight and pretty. I plated the little watermelon wedges on some curly lettuce and we had our lunch.
Oh heavens, people started commenting in shocked voices just how bitter these little buggers were. I took a bite and winced. This wasn’t sour, it was pure bitter! The strawberry Jello flavor was totally overpowered by the acid from the lime peels. Those online people who commented weren’t wimps, they were just being honest. The Jello was bitter all the way through after just being in the lime skins about 12 hours.
Now I know these little watermelon slices are meant to be made with alcohol, as a shooter. I had also thought possibly the alcohol people had used contributed to making them bitter, hence the comments online. Nope. We had no alcohol in them and a few of us commented that maybe after a couple of these filled with alcohol, we wouldn’t notice the bitterness? I’m thinking no.
So I’m here to tell you- they were a lot of work, looked cute, tasted HORRID. I’m not sure if it’s possible to use anything to seal the rinds and prevent the acid from leaching into the Jello. It was such a bad experience I really don’t care to try them ever again. I can think of a lot of better ways to use Jello that would take a lot less time to prepare. But I can now say I finally tried making little lime watermelons. Done. And I even forgot to take pictures of the beginning, middle and end of those lime watermelons. What a shame. They were cute.