What can you do with an abundance of late summer melons, once you’ve eaten your fill and have given away as many as you can to friends and neighbors? A good option is to preserve them for winter enjoyment. There are a large class of melon pickles (including the famous watermelon rind pickle which will be our final recipe of our final vegetable sometime next summer), and here we present an excellent cantaloupe pickle adapted from a recipe found in Jeanne Lesem’s 1992 Preserving in Today's Kitchen (ISBN 978-0805048810).
½ cup picking lime dissolved into 2 cups water
3 pounds firm, unripe cantaloupe
3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons fresh ginger paste
1½ cups wine vinegar
Mix the picking lime solution in a non-reactive (preferably ceramic or glass) bowl. Cut the melon in half and remove the seeds. Pare the skin with a potato peeler, leaving a thin green layer of flesh. Cut the flesh into 1” cubes. You should have about 6 cups of prepared melon.
Add melon cubes to the lime solution and let stand for 4 hours. Drain, rinse, and drain again. Rinse the bowl, and return the rinsed cantaloupe pieces. Cover with fresh water and let stand for 2 hours. Drain.
Add remaining ingredients into a wide, 4-quart non-reactive saucepan, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the cantaloupe pieces and weight with a plate to keep them submerged. Let stand 18-24 hours.
The next day bring to a boil and simmer for 75-90 minutes until the syrup thickens and the melon pieces become somewhat translucent. Spoon melon pieces into hot pint jars, topping off with cooking syrup, leaving 1/2” of head space. Seal with lids and process in a boiling hot water bath for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Let rest in a dark, cool place for at least one month before opening.
Chilled Melon Soup
This refreshing chilled soup is a great way to enjoy your freshly grown melons on a warm afternoon following a day in the garden. The original recipe appeared in Nuala Cullen’s 2001Irish Soups & Breads (ASIN: B00GNXPSGY). We like using a fruity white wine such as a Moscato.
1 large cantaloupe
¾ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoon sugar
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon lemon extract
1/3 cup fruity white wine
1 tablespoon fresh ginger paste
Cut melon in half and discard seeds. Peel away the skin, and place the remaining flesh in a pot with the lemon juice, sugar and water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the melon is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Puree with lemon extract, wine, and ginger until smooth.
Serve chilled with a little cream on top as a garnish.