Miss Abigail did her fair canning yesterday. I was personally glad that she was willing to repeat the 4-H canning project this year. (If Abigail were a Border Collie I would describe her as "biddable." She is so good to go along with all I ask her to do!) I felt that repeating the project would help solidify the skills that she learned last summer and help her feel confident that she could preserve food this way. She canned regular quick pickles and two kinds of pickled fruit. The pickled cantaloupe recipe was a repeat from last year. We tried pickling cherries just because we had cherries ready to can. The cantaloupe looks so pretty in the jar that she will exhibit that one. Here is the recipe for pickled cantaloupe, in case you want to try it.
Cut one just barely ripe cantaloupe into 1" pieces, as evenly square as possible. 7 cups of cantaloupe will fill three or four pint jars. (Abigail used a melon ball tool, just so that the fruit would look pretty in the jar. Because the judge doesn't open the jar, about the only way to gain points in a judging situation is to be exact on the headspace and to make things as pretty as you can!)
Combine 1 1/2 cups white vinegar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. Make a spice bag with 1 stick cinnamon, 1 teaspoon whole cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice. Bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add melon. Let stand about 2 hours. Add 2 1/4 cups sugar to the melon. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat; simmer until cantaloupe become slightly transparent. (Don't let this go on too long or the cantaloupe will become mushy!)
Begin to heat the water in the water bath canner. Prepare clean jars and heat these in the water canner. Heat the lids in a small saucepan to soften rings. Working quickly, one at a time, remove the jars from the canner and drain briefly. Pack the hot melon into the jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Ladle hot pickling liquid over melon, again leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Clean the rims and adjust the two piece lids.
Once all the jars are in the canner, make sure there is about 2 inches of water over top of the jars and bring the water to a full boil. Process the jars for 15 minutes, keeping the water boiling the whole time.
Allow the jars to cool and listen for the "pings" that tell you the jar has sealed. BTW, sometimes you won't hear the ping, but when the lid is fully concave, the jar is sealed. Wash the jars and clean the rings before storing in the cupboard (and certainly before exhibiting in the fair!)
On to the other pickles...