Cantaloupe Jam (Ball recipe)

In on August 17, 2019 with 4 Comments
Preserve summer in a jar with this delicious cantaloupe jam. This takes more time than other jams, but it is definitely worth it.

Info

Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Difficulty Very Easy
Servings 5

Ingredients

My Dad loves to grow cantaloupe, and his favorite variety is the Ambrosia hybrid you can get from Burpee. They are the sweetest cantaloupe I’ve ever eaten, and we’ve tried lots of varieties. In Iowa, the grocery stores will often get Athena cantaloupe, which are good, but the Ambrosia is way sweeter than Athena. I’d always wanted to try making jam from these, but until recently, there wasn’t a safe (tested) jam recipe because cantaloupe is a very low acid fruit and requires a little different handling to can it unless you want to pickle it – and I couldn’t justify turning these delicious cantaloupe into a pickle. Some people may love them, but that’s just not my thing.

Along came the All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving to the rescue. I bought this canning book specifically for this recipe, and it did not disappoint. I followed the instructions to the letter, but I have a feeling that the cooking instructions will be different depending on the ripeness and variety of the cantaloupe you use. The first part of the cooking instructions tell you to cook the melon pieces before 20 minutes before mashing them to allow time for the melon to soften. I can tell you I did not need to wait that long with these Ambrosia melons, and I think it’s because of the variety. When these are ready to pick, they release themselves from the vine, and you have to eat them right away because they don’t keep long. The flesh is already soft. This isn’t because they are old – it’s just the way the melon is. By the time I got the melon up to a boil, the pieces were starting to fall apart as they were already soft, so I didn’t need the full 20 minutes of cooking time before I mashed them, so just be aware to keep a close eye while cooking.

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I was worried that the jam would be too sweet, since these melons are super sweet to begin with. I also worried that I would taste the lemon juice or that it would be off-putting. Neither turned out to be the case. If anything, I tasted salt over the lemon juice and sugar, and if you add salt when eating a slice of melon, then you’ll enjoy this jam. I also did not use the peppercorns in the recipe. I never put pepper on my melon, so I didn’t want it in the jam, but I’m sure it would add another layer of flavor.

The type of melon and how juicy it is will obviously affect your jam yield. The recipe says that 14 cups of melon will yield about 5 half pints. I ended up with 6 half pints and 3 4-ounce jars for sampling.

Cantaloupe Jam

14 cups cantaloupe cubes, 1 inch (can use other orange-fleshed melon cubes)

1/4 cup kosher salt (I used regular canning salt)

4 cups sugar

3/4 cups bottled lemon juice

1 tablespoon crushed pink peppercorns (optional)

 

Toss together melon and salt in a large bowl. Cover and let stand for 2 hours. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again.

Stir together melon, sugar, and lemon juice in a 6-quart stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until melon is soft. Mash melon pieces with a potato masher. Simmer, uncovered, stirring often, for about 1 hour until jam is at the gelling point. Melons release a lot of water, so cooking time may vary. Skim foam, if necessary, and if desired stir in peppercorns.

Ladle hot jam into a hot jar, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band and adjust to fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.

Process jars for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat. Remove lid and let jars stand for 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool.

 

Yield: 5 half pints

 

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