How do you preserve Cantaloupe?

macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)July 3, 2008

We had a slight mishap in starting seeds this year. My 1 1/2 year old loved to move markers on plants that were being started in the basement. The bottom line is that we have 12 cantaloupe plants growing when we were expecting 4. The kids went to the garden and counted the immature cantaloupes and came back with 109. A couple are about twice the size of a softball now so we're going to inundated with them soon. What is the best way to preserve them? Any ways to get creative with them? We can easily eat 10 a week if we don't have watermellon but it looks like it might be a bumper year for them as well.

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The cantaloupe can be cut into pieces in frozen. It will not thaw to the same texture though as freezing will soften it quite a bit. A dip into a strong ascorbic acid solution can help to prevent it from darkening. Here, I had a very serious problem with possums. They just seem to LOVE chewing into each and every melon to eat out all of its seeds and liquid. For me, the only way to fnd them off is to trap and relocate them, as well as set up a motion sensing floodlight system that would switch on when varmints are prowling at night. It also had a loud ultrasonic device attached that would scare them away.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 12:58PM
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I do different things with them: 1) Freeze them, either in slices or cubed up. Put a little fruit fresh on them so they don't brown. I like to eat them while still semi-frozen like a popsicle. You can also put them into fruit salads if you like. 2) Dehydrate them -- they get sort of leathery, but make a fairly tasty snack. They actually taste better if you slice them fairly thinly, roll them in sugar first, let them sit on a rack to draw some of the moisture out, roll again in sugar, then dry. Set the dehydrator on a medium setting if adjustable. You can dry them without the added sugar and they're still pretty good.

You can also make melon sorbet. I suspect you could make a melon freezer jam as well, but never tried it. I tried making a cooked melon jam once -- I found out that, if you cook them, the flavor changes and they taste like grass and cucumbers -- yuck.

Finally, cantaloupe juice is really, really good if you have a juicer, and this too freezes really well for future use.

I hope all of this helps you.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 12:59PM
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Gotta love the little ones, don't you? Life's simple pleasures are what they are, but sometimes they can bring on some great surprises for Mom. Okay, back to the cantalope, I have a recipe for Ambrosial Jam which I think I got on here. It is out of this world. Each batch uses one medium cantalope in with the other ingredients. This year I plan to make several batches. I make mine with a little Splenda instead of the sugar called for since DH and I are both Type II diabetics and I use it for gifts as well. Everyone who has tasted it loves it.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 2:50PM
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macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)

Any chance of posting the recipe?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 4:18PM
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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

I think you'll be happier with the frozen melon if you IQF 0 Individually quick freeze. Spread your balls or slices or cubes of melon in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. Then after they're solid you can scoop them into a baggie or whatever. They'll freeze faster and retain more food quality than in a dense container. Be sure to serve them kinda icy. Like strawberries.

I'm looking forward to the ambrosia jam recipe too.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 5:58PM
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I freeze cantaloupes like gran2 does, and they are quite good just to munch on frozen. Also, they make great smoothies and if you like a cocktail, cantaloupe daiquiris are delicious. I made some jam with cantaloupe last year, and it was quite tasty.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 9:20PM
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This is pretty much the recipe I used for the Ambrosial Jam, but I didn't use sugar. I used Splenda to taste and Pomona Pectin. Also, I let it stand overnight in the refrigerator, not out on a counter.

Ambrosial Jam

8 Peaches, peeled
3 lg Oranges
Pulp of 1 med. cantaloupe
1 Lemon
1 (8 1/2 oz.) can crushed

Chop all ingredients fine.
Put oranges through food chopper.
Combine all with 3/4 cup sugar for every 1 cup of fruit. Mix well and let stand overnight.
Next morning, gently cook mixture 1 hour, stirring frequently. Pour into hot jars and seal. I did the WB to seal them.

Makes 8 pints.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 11:24PM
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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

Thanks for that recipe. Sounds very different, perfect for scones and Sunday mornings. Have you tried any other fruits?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 12:19PM
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gran2, I haven't tried any other fruits in this particular recipe, but I can't see why you couldn't if the combinations suited you. I have made preserves and jams from a lot of different fruit over the years, but this and the Apple Pie Jam made with Pomona's and Splenda are my favorites so far. I originally started making preserves with regular pectin and sugar like most people, but switched to Splenda and Pomona's last year after being diagnosed with Type II diabetes. I don't think I've ever used more that 1 c. or less of Splenda. Have to do a taste test to see what suits you. I am planning this year to try out the Strawberry/Raspberry/Black Pepper and Strawberr/Mint/Black Pepper jams on this forum and several others.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 2:33PM
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Quite late to this party, but I am eager to try this recipe and wanted to ask, do you peel the orange and lemon or chop up the peels with it?... Peaches are listed as peeled, but not the citrus... New to this cooking/preserving game and appreciate the help.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 9:28AM
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