Canning and preserving food used to mean long days, boxes and bins overflowing with fruits or veggies, bees swarming, a hot kitchen and sticky floors.
I was 6 when that impression was made upon me, and that’s how I always saw it.
Obviously I wasn’t too excited about doing my own once I reached adulthood, so I opted for freezer jams and refrigerator pickles. If I wanted something more robust, I went to my moms and raided her always full pantry.
I think it’s safe to say I was in my 30s before I caught on to the excitement of it all. I also discovered a little something called “small batch canning”, and the realization that I could preserve foods in small amounts was ultimately what won me over.
Over the years I’ve become quite comfortable with it, and the mess is minimal. I generally keep to the preserving months of August and September, and I have my favourites. Blueberries in honey, Apple marmalade jam, roast corn salsa… if you follow my Facebook page you’ll see photos of these things, and often. Butters vary, but they are the easiest because they’re essentially puréed fruit, reduced down with sugar. That’s it. I think last year, it was golden figs that I used.
And it’s because I’m so comfortable with canning and preserving, that when I saw cantaloupes on sale for about a $1 yesterday my only thought was “heck ya. I’ll make a butter”, and threw one in my cart.
Cantaloupe Citrus Butter
Prepare your jars as you would for any other canning recipe. This isn’t a blog about canning so I don’t want to go into detail, but you’re basically going to wash and rinse your jars, and then boil them for 10 minutes in a large canner. Make sure you read up on preparing your dishes and surfaces for canning before you begin.
Wash the outside shell of the cantaloupe, slice in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Discard. Using a large spoon or other utensil, scoop out the soft flesh being careful to not get any of the shell. Pack it into a blender and purée. You can see I got just a hair under 4 cups.
In a metal sauce pot, add the purée, sugar, zest and lime juice. Whisk together and being to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 12 minutes. The longer you simmer, the thicker it will ultimately be. For me, in this batch, 11 minutes was perfect. You’ll also notice the colour will change from a light peach colour, to a beautiful orange.
Add the seals, and the screw tops. Hot bath the jars for 10 minutes and set them on a rack to cool. Once you hear a “pop” sound and the center of the seal is sucked downward, you’re set!
While I love fruit butters on home made bread, they really go well paired with sharp cheese and look so pretty on a platter.