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Cantaloupes are a very low acid fruit, which means that typically they are not good candidates for canning. But in this conserve they are combined with juicy fresh peaches and a healthy dose of lemon juice, which ups the acid level enough so that they can be safely preserved. Simmering the conserve for over an hour really concentrates the fruit, resulting in a deep, pure melon flavor.
I've been pondering the idea of a melon jam or conserve for a while now, but I was worried about two things. First, how to safely can such a low acid fruit. And second, how to achieve a good set when melons are filled with so much water. After doing a bit of research, I came across a recipe from the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The cantaloupe is combined with an equal amount of peaches, and a generous 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice raises the acid level enough so that it can be safely processed in a hot water bath and stored on the shelf. Since I was still concerned about getting my conserve to gel properly, I added one pouch of liquid pectin right at the end.
The combination of ripe peaches and floral, sweet melon make for a perfect end-of-summer treat. Try this conserve over slices of pound cake or zucchini bread, or served alongside cornbread and grilled ribs.
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