“Necessity is the Mother of Invention”
The art of homemade pickling and jam making is a centuries old technique for preserving foods. Fresh vegetables and fruits have a short shelf life. Before the advent of refrigerators, our ancestors used these techniques to store vegetables and preserve something “sweet” for the cold winter months. In the south “Bread & Butter Pickles” is a condiment as common as ketchup at a Barbeque. Each month, in the restaurant, we process about eight cases of cucumbers for “Bread & Butter Pickles “and two cases of okra for “Pickled Okra,” another popular condiment.
For the past month, my Sous Chef has been on a jam making and pickling binge. He has pickled and canned all the fruits and vegetables in our produce cooler. Give him credit, he’s really enthusiastic about this project and is constantly challenging us, to come up with new combinations to add to his growing collection. On Tuesday night, we had a case of rhubarbs starting to go bad, (you guessed it) we made rhubarb and ginger jam with it. We have a large writing easel in the kitchen and on Wednesday, we all jotted down interesting jam combinations for us to make. Not wanting to be left out, I suggested watermelon jam.
Laughter……… “Who wants to eat watermelon jam?” a cook asked. On the defensive, I said “I’ve never heard of, or seen watermelon jam in the supermarket, so why couldn’t we make some.” Sounds plausible right? Still didn’t make it on the board. Fine! It looked and tasted good in my mind. I was not going to let this go. Instead, my idea would come home with me. This would be my personal project. If it worked, I’d bring a small Tupperware container of watermelon jam to my restaurant and rub it in their faces. Hey you! There’s jam on your face………….. yea that’s right,watermelon jam.
Fortuitously a few days before, I had purchased a small watermelon at the farmers market. It had been sitting on the kitchen counter because I had been too lazy to cut it up; but not for much longer. I love a challenge. Thursday, my day-off, I began planning for what I hoped would be a sweet reward and if nothing else the restoration of my ruffled pride.
My mental plan for the Watermelon Jam Project
I already had the watermelon, measuring cups, granulated sugar and plastic Tupperware. I was about half way there. I needed to make a quick run to Kroger supermarket for pectin and some lemons.
4 cups of diced watermelon ( seeds removed)
¼ cup lemon juice
3 ½ ozs of Pectin
2 cups granulated sugar
- Blend ¾ of the diced watermelon to make a puree
- Combine diced watermelon and puree in a saucepot
- Add lemon juice and 1 cup sugar to mixture
- Combine pectin and 1 cup sugar and set aside
- Bring mixture to a rolling boil ( about 6 min) stirring constantly
- Add rest of sugar and pectin , continue stirring for another minute
- Remove from heat and spoon into a clean container