Last summer I was on a cantaloupe kick. I ate cantaloupe every morning with cottage cheese. And when I didn't have cottage cheese, I sprinkled it a little salt. The salt idea is from my grandmother, who always served juicy halves of cantaloupe with salt. I have a distinct luscious memory of sitting on my grandmothers' porch on a hot summer day and eating cool cantaloupe with salt. Bees buzzing in the Rose of Sharon, cicadas singing as they clung to the willow tree and warm lusty breezes surrounding me. Comforting me. Oh, those lazy, magical days of childhood.
When I started eating the cantaloupe last year, I posted it on Facebook. Who doesn't do that? I know many people don't like that kind of thing, posting mundane crap, and it does annoy me some too, even though I am guilty of doing it. But I don't regret having done it in this instance. My aunt saw it and we had a conversation. She told me that she still eats cantaloupe with salt. And that started a conversation. We talked about my grandmother and the house she grew up in. We talked about the family holiday dinners there and my grandfathers garden. It was great, I asked her questions, learned about my family and it was all because I posted I was eating cantaloupe with salt.
What is significant about this, and more so in hindsight, is that my aunt and my family had been estranged for many years. It was a terrible family dispute that lasted too long. A few years ago the thaw started and we were soon back in each others lives. But, my aunt is dead now. She died of cancer. She had a good life, she lived much longer than her doctors expected her to and she died very peacefully. She had just shut up the house, sat on the couch, had a brandy, took her teeth out and then she expired. She was found sitting on the couch.
So before you judge those mundane Facebook posts, know that they can be the start of changes, lead to reconciliations and memories. Even though they seem stupid, they are truthful. I was eating cantaloupe with salt.
I made pickled cantaloupe last year for the first time. I found a recipe for pickled pears and that lead me to pickling the cantaloupe. And it is yummy. Yesterday I made the first batch of pickled cantaloupe this year. And as I was preparing them, I thought of long ago summers, my aunt and how wonderful it is to be alive.
Enjoy the cantaloupe.
Here's the recipe:
1 large cantaloupe [just about ripe, still slightly firm]
Pickling spice [My new favorite is McCormick's brand.]
(2) 1-Quart mason jars with lids
1. Wash and dry the mason jars and lids.
2. Remove the hard rind from the cantaloupe.
3. Cut cantaloupe into 3/4 in pieces.
4. Fill mason jars evenly with cantaloupe pieces. Note: A large cantaloupe fills two jars.
5. Fill one of the just packed jars with vinegar and strain the vinegar into a sauce pan.
6. Do the same thing, but use water.
7. Add a teaspoon of salt & sugar to the vinegar water and bring to a boil.
8. Add 1 Tablespoon of pickling spice to the cantaloupe. Note: This amount of spice makes for an intense flavor.
9. Pour the boiling vinegar over the cantaloupe.
10. Using a table knife, make sure the cantaloupe has no air pockets and the spices start to circulate through the liquid.
11. Put the lids on. Take a towel, wrap it around the hot jar, pick it up and give it a few good shakes.
12. Place on a windowsill until cool enough to refrigerate.
13. Cantaloupe will be ready by the next day. Note: I don't know how long the cantaloupe will last in the refrigerator, but I know when I make it, it doesn't last more than a week - because it is eaten by then! Just use common sense when storing it.
Let me know if you make it and if you do please post a comment.