Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Melon - Peach - Pignoli Jam

If you're going to take on home canning as a hobby, which I strongly encourage, the key is to ferret out or develop unique recipes, interesting combinations. Yes farmstand fresh strawberry jam has timeless appeal, but something like this -- a melon and pine nut jam -- isn't something you'll find in stores and is a very luscious combination.

Perhaps it would be logical to go about this in a more organized fashion, collecting all my interesting jelly, jam, pickle, relish and mustard recipes in a group. However, melons are in their last flush of the season and getting this jam into the jar is too important. Made a great batch this weekend. Original recipe is from a British book "Clearly Delicious" -- I've substituted pignoli instead of the original call for slivered almonds. Toasted lightly, they add deeper, more distinct nuttiness. And the Brit version says to go it alone without commercial pectin, which gives looser, more liquid results than I like, so I add in a pouch of Certo to thicken things up.

Keep in mind that home canning sugar- or acid-heavy fruits and vegs doesn't come close to the perils of processing meats, fish, low-acid produce. That's pressure canner stuff. Easily sterilized jars (boiling water or sani-cycle in the dishwasher or hand wash then dry in a 250 degree oven) and lids (just simmer in a pan) and a quick 10 minute boiling water bath when the jars are filled is so easy. Takes more thought to write it out than to actually do it.

A really good, large copper confiture pan produces excellent results for fruit preserves. Obvs copper isn't good for high acid concoctions, you'll want enameled cast iron for that.

Melon - Peach - Pignoli Jam.

2 lbs. fresh, peeled, roughly chopped peaches
2 lbs. really ripe cantalope, chopped into 1/2 - 1 inch pieces (they kind of break down in the cooking)

Cover in a non-reactive bowl with 7 cups of sugar, let stand overnight.

Bring all to a nice hard boil for 20 minutes. Add a pinch of ground ginger and 3 T. lemon juice. Stir to keep from scorching. After 20 minutes, things should be pretty syrupy. Add one pouch of Certo and keep it at a full on boil for another minute. Remove pan from heat, skim off any foam that might have developed.

Stir in 1 cup lightly toasted pine nuts.

Ladle into 10 sterilized 8 oz. jelly jars, seal and process.

If the pine nuts aren't evenly distributed when you take them from the water bath, let them sit til you hear to pop of the top as the jars cool (which means the seal has set), then turn the jars over for 5 - 10 minutes and the nuts will migrate up through the jars so that when you turn them right side up again, and the jam has thickened more, the nuts will float throughout the jam.

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