With summer coming to a close, so many of the fruits and vegetables abundant in mid-summer are gone, or at least well on their way out. In our garden, the green beans, the cucumbers, and the raspberries, once so vibrant, are now turning dry and brown. Even at our local farmers’ market, a lot of this high-summer produce is pretty hard to come by.
These signs of passing summer always make me a little sad. And so, when I am in our garden or at the farmers’ market in September, I am thankful to be reminded that even amidst the passing of so many things, Autumn has her own amazing bounty to offer, with so many other fruits and vegetables just reaching their peak. The tomatoes, the kale, the cabbage, the carrots, the pumpkins – they are everywhere!
And the melons. Did I mention the melons? They are amazing! We didn’t grow melons in our garden this year, but the market is overflowing with them, and they are just so sweet and delicious that I thought I’d try making Cantaloupe Jam this year.
With no added spices, this is an easy recipe to make. And it’s quite tasty! It’s sweet and complex, with a hint of muskiness – a great way to enjoy the unique flavor of cantaloupe.
To get the diced quantity of cantaloupe called for in this recipe, start with two ripe, medium-sized melons. You probably won’t need all of both. I find that the easiest way to dice cantaloupe is to cut the melon in half, and quarter each of the halves. Then, using a paring knife, I slice the rind off of each piece of melon before dicing the melon flesh into ½-inch cubes.
The next step is to cook the melon slightly with a little water, which makes the melon soft enough to mash. Because you’re cooking with so little added water, it might look like the melon is going to burn when you first heat it up, but please don’t add more water. Extra water will dilute your jam. Simply stir to prevent sticking, and soon the melon will release its juices.
One more thing to keep in mind in making this jam is that cantaloupe has much less acid than most other fruits. This means that this jam requires the addition of quite a lot of lemon juice to make it safe for boiling water bath canning. Please be sure to use the full quantity of lemon juice called for in the recipe. Using bottled lemon juice is highly recommended, as it has a standard level of acidity. If you choose to use fresh lemon juice, be sure to use standard, full-acid lemons.
Cantaloupe Jam is a low-sugar or low-honey cooked jam made with Pomona’s Pectin. Pomona’s Pectin contains no sugar or preservatives and jells reliably with low amounts of any sweetener.
Yield: 4 to 5 cups
Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
Cantaloupe Jam Ingredients
6¾ cups peeled, seeded, diced cantaloupe (½-inch dice)
2 Tablespoons water
1 cup lemon juice
4 teaspoons calcium water
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons Pomona’s pectin powder
Cantaloupe Jam Directions
1. Wash and rinse jars, lids, and screw bands. Set screw bands aside until ready to use. Place jars in boiling water bath canner with a rack, fill at least 2/3 of the way full with water, and bring to a boil. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize (add 1 additional minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level), then turn down heat and let jars stand in hot water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small pan, bring to a low simmer, and hold there until ready to use.
2. Combine the diced cantaloupe with the 2 Tablespoons of water in a sauce pan. Cover with a lid, and heat the cantaloupe on high for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cantaloupe has begun to release its juice. Then, reduce heat slightly and cook, still covered, at a low boil for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and mash the cantaloupe. A potato masher works well for this.
4. Measure out 4 cups of the mashed cantaloupe. (If you have extra, simply use it for something else.) Pour the measured amount of cantaloupe back into the sauce pan. Add lemon juice and calcium water and stir to combine.
5. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and pectin powder. Mix well and set aside.
6. Bring the cantaloupe mixture up to rolling boil over high heat. Add the sugar-pectin mixture, then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, still over the highest heat, to dissolve pectin. Return jam to a boil, then remove from heat.
7. Remove hot jars from canner and fill jars with jam, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, and put on lids and screw bands, tightening bands only to “fingertip tight” (until resistance is met, and then just the tiniest bit more).
8. Place jars in the hot water, on the rack inside the canner. (Make sure jars are upright, not touching each other or the sides of the canner, and are covered with at least 1-2 inches of water). Place the lid on the canner, return the canner to a rolling boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)
9. Turn off heat and allow canner and jars to sit for 5 minutes. Then remove jars from canner.
10. Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Then confirm that jars have sealed. Remove screw bands from sealed jars, rinse off outside of jars if necessary, label jars, and store for later use. Or eat immediately on toast with tea!
Recipe and photos by Allison Carroll Duffy