We are still eating the benefits of last year’s melon glut. Pablo enthusiastically planted melon seeds, yielding around 50 fruit. We have learned not to predict the size of the crop: half a dozen this year, 100 or so in 2011! Although melons keep well in the cool, there is only so much we can eat ourselves and give away to friends. So last autumn I made two versions of melon conserve. As melon has poor setting qualities, the finished conserve was more like a runny syrup so we have eaten it since then as a topping for ice cream. It was so delicious that now, I will make the conserve solely for that purpose.
The two versions I made were Melon and Ginger Conserve, using a jar of crystallised ginger I had in the cupboard, and Melon and Pineapple Conserve using fresh pineapple. The basic recipe and both adaptations are from an old Marguerite Patten book. Makes 750g basic melon preserve
1lb melon [weight when peeled and seeds removed]
4 tbsp lemon juice
Halve the melon and cut away the skin, then remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into 1in dice. Add half the lemon juice with the sugar, allow to stand for two hours. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then add the rest of the lemon juice and raise the heat a little. I used a jam pan for this. Cook steadily until setting point is reached [I used a sugar thermometer, setting point for conserves is between around 104°C or 219°F]. Allow to cool slightly, stir to distribute the melon then spoon into hot jars [clean and sterilised either in the dishwasher or the oven] and seal.
Version 1 – As I only had crystallised ginger, I chopped 2½tbsp and left it to soak in a sugar syrup [made of 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, then boiled] to extract the flavour. I added this ginger mixture with the sugar and half the lemon juice, and left the mixture to stand. Continue the recipe as above.
Version 2 – To the 1lb chopped melon, add 1lb neatly diced pineapple and 2lb sugar, and allow to stand for two hours. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved then add 3 tbsp of lemon juice and continue the recipe as above.
We stored our jars in the fridge and they have happily lasted a year.