Progress…at last, she says smiling at her ability to walk up the stairs to her third floor office without total collapse and shortage of breath.

IMG_8582For me, the worst sort of punishment I could ever receive was to take stairs up anywhere. Coming down as you well know, ladies and gentlemen is a breeze, except you attempt to do it down winding, narrow wooden slats in an old Dutch windmill. Anyhow, since I began this ‘healthy lifestyle’, I’ve added ‘taking the stairs as opposed to the lift’ as one of my must-do’s.

IMG_8566On day one of my commitment, I managed to make it up to my office and then realised that I had a series of meetings in another building, on the 4th floor. By the time I got there, I was ready to take the lift, self-promise scraped and ready to redeem myself another time. Unfortunately, fate got there before me by sending the lift out of commission and forcing me to take the long journey. Up. IMG_8589By the time I was on the first floor landing, I wanted to sit down and rest. As God would have it, hearing voices in the stairwell was like a kick up the butt and a push…..and so I continued up till I reached the top. I am glad to say that a month on, I’ve stopped panting with exhaustion, stopped cursing stairs and generally enjoy putting one foot in front of the other as I make my way. Imagine how glorious my weekend in Wales with all the hills!

IMG_8574And on the jam front too, even more progress, this time made with softened Galia melons, the day before we headed off to Wales. J, daughter #1 had forced me to buy 2 melons and as soon as I cut into the first one and gave her a slice to taste, she said ‘I don’t like it, this is the wrong one. I want the one that’s white inside’. I didn’t really mind because I was keen to give melon jam a go after a spectacular watermelon disaster last summer, which tasted horrible because of the bitter limequats I used. This time, I planned to combine the melon pieces with my sugar-preserved citrus, fully conscious of the fact that it might have a bitter tang.

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I absolutely love the skin of net melons – Galias and Cantaloupes and their fair cousins – they are so pretty and juicy. And to me, unlike watermelons which are sweet and watery at the same time, I find Gaias to have some ‘meat’, yet being full of liquid and packing a heady musky scent.

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I was shocked to discover from a Serious Eats article on Cantaloupe melons that net-skinned melons are one of the leading sources of salmonella poisoning.

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The bacteria get into the bumpy skin, then form something called a polymer biofilm, making them almost impossible to get back out with regular washing—even bleach doesn’t kill them. In fact, the only way to destroy the bacteria is to heat treat the cantaloupe, which also has the unwelcome side-effect of destroying the cantaloupe.

The article has some great tips for reducing the risks like treat your melons like raw chicken – use a separate board and wash in hot soapy water after use; employ the service of a sharp knife so you avoid tearing the skin  and remove the rind before serving it up.

Like the ancho strawberry preserve and the peach & orange jam before it, this marmalade with its chunky bits of citrus held together by slow-cooked, melon pulp, it tastes very good in yogurt. And on bread too. Yes, it has a hint of bitterness like expected but it is not at all overpowering. The marmalade has a fragrant, blossomy smell and has layers of flavour, intertwined just like the netted skin – the cooked melons, the vanilla and the citruses stack themselves in a pattern that is complex but rounded. There are no sharp edges to the flavours, just chunky bits of citrus, held together by a jam of melons. Perfect for the summer. Next stop, this served alongside some chicken breasts!

Galia melon & preserved citrus marmalade, yields 1 – 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups pulp/flesh (of gaia) melons, in balls or chunks
1 cup thinly sliced preserved citrus
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod or vanilla extract
1/4 cup apple syrup
Juice of 1 – 2 limes
1 tablespoon Cointreau

Notes:

If using fresh citrus fruit, wash and cut fruit into halves and then into thin slices, reserving the seeds. Tie the seeds in a piece of muslin or cheescloth and place in a bowl with the fruit slices and some water (ratio of about 1 lemon/1-2 limes/1 orange to 1 cup of water). Because my fruit was preserved, it had softened and didn’t require being cut into thin slices or soaking overnight.

Because I used a liquid sweetner and I knew the melon would turn to mush, I didn’t add any water to the mixture. Typically, the sugar-fruit ratio when making jam/marmalade is one to one, especially when preserving but I don’t have any canning energy and therefore make my jams and preserves for short storage.

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How to

Put all the ingredients in a pan (I dumped all the ingredients at the same time), save for the lime juice and the Cointreau.

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Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer covered for about 45 minutes to an hour.

When ready, the marmalade will look transcluscent.

Stir in the lime juice and Cointreau and pot in clean jars.

IMG_8553Use within a week.

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