Saturday, July 20, 2013

Canning On A Rainy Day...Cantaloupe And Ginger Preserves

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To say that the Fourth of July weekend was a washout is an understatement. A flood is perhaps a better word.  It started raining on Wednesday and it hasn't stopped yet.  Today, in defiance more than frustration, the young people went out on the lake.  Which reminds me, I'd better get started on some hot chocolate before they come in all drenched from the rain. 

On the plus side I watched the entire season of Mr. Selfridge which I had somehow missed and made a big batch of Crab and Corn Chowder and my favorite Thai Shrimp And Pineapple Rice, both of which appeared hot on different nights and cold on subsequent lunches.  I really haven't had to cook much this past weekend and that is what I call great planning.  But then I got bored....and started canning some of the summer fruit. 

This is a post I started and never finished on the holiday weekend at the beginning of the month.   It is typical of what we have been enduring all summer long.  Summer...what summer?! Perhaps instead of Global Warming we should start worrying about Global Drowning!

To say we are depressed is a major understatement.  The garden is in tatters.  All the hard work we did and the money we spent in the Spring to enjoy the fruits of our labor this Summer have been a waste.  It has been raining on and off since the beginning of June with the big downpours reserved for the weekends.  Even when not in the forecast, stray thunderstorms seem to appear out of nowhere to ruin an otherwise decent day.  The herbs are the worst.  No basil left, or parsley to speak of, and the tarragon is hanging in by a thread.  This is the first summer I have had to go out and buy fresh herbs at the store to use in my cooking.  

The Georgia corn this year has been wonderful.  I guess it likes the rain.  I don't hold out much hope for our heirloom tomatoes but we will have to wait on that.  What the rain hasn't killed the rabbit has enjoyed.  I could kill that little monster.  He adores the hostas, particularly the buds just as they are about to bloom.  My daughter, who thought he was cute when we first moved in, has now turned into his worst nightmare spraying anti rabbit stuff in every leaf she can find.  No matter, he couldn't care less.  See the big hosta in the middle with the three spikes?  Those were blooms one day, headless spikes the next. Sometimes I really hate nature.

There is one plant that is really enjoying this weather in spite of the fact it wasn't supposed to make it up here...  the cestrum nocturnum or Night Jasmin that I'm so fond of.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for blooms in another month or so...that is if we haven't been evacuated in Noah's Ark by then. 

This was him when I returned from New York in late May:

And then there is Sandra's hydrangea, a gift she brought me last Fall:

The gardenias put on quite a show this year.  So did the ferns.  Not so the roses or the geraniums.  All in all a C- .  So I mope and can.

This is an Italian recipe that is quite divine and different here in the States.  The melons have been fantabulous this year, particularly the honeydews.  This one is with cantaloupes and I don't go through all the canning rigmarole but you can if you want. 

Fresh preserves and marmalades are like nothing you buy in a jar and  so easy to make.  You should really try making some in the summer when the fruit is fresh, plentiful and inexpensive.  You won't be sorry.

Makes 2 to 2 1/2 pints

Confettura di Melone e Zenzero

3 medium cantaloupes, seeded, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces
3 1/2 cups sugar
3 to 4 lemons
2 TBs finely grated fresh ginger
3 whole star anise

Put melon in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar.  Let stand chilled and covered 8 hours or overnight.

Drain the melon, reserving the liquid.

Squeeze 1/2 cup lemon juice from the lemons.  Reserve 2 halves of the juiced lemons.

In a saucepan combine melon, melon liquid, remaining 3 cups of sugar, lemon juice, lemon halves, ginger and star anise.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 30 minutes or until the melon is translucent and tender.

Reserving syrup, drain melon and discard lemon halves. Return syrup to saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until thickened.  About 30 minutes.  Remove syrup from heat and stir the melon back in.

Ladle preserves into hot sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch on top.  (this is where I stop)  Put jars in a pot, cover with about 2 inches of water and boil for 20 minutes covered. Or use your own canning procedure.

Recipe from La Cucina Italiana


  1. We've had a lot of rain too and basically ruined our heirloom tomatoes, but the rain has seemed to slow down the last week or so. Just regular summer showers now. Deer eat our hostas and azaleas, so we've given up on growing them. We have bunnies too, but so far they just eat the grass, I guess because the hostas were already eaten :)

    My husband adores melons and he would love your confettura. Hope you see some sunshine soon and the rain lets up. BTW, Georgia corn has been fantastic this year.

    1. Luckily the fence in the back keeps the deer away. We have plenty in back but they go next door to feast on my next door neighbor's garden. She used to have hostas too. No more. Our bunnies also eat the big clumps!

      More rain today....

  2. I've never thought of preserving melons... what a marvelous idea!

    Sorry about your weather and MR Bunny. Sometimes a bit of cayenne in water sprayed on the flowers can teach them it's not a good thing to eat

  3. You can send some of your rain our way...we are having the weirdest winter ever...hardly raining, brilliant blue skies, lurching between freezing and unseasonally warm...

    I haven't tasted preserved melon since my grandparents used to make it....a long time ago now! But I love your addition of the star anise...would bring out that perfumed flavour of the cantaloupe beautifully.


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