This month's notes: March 2014: Spring is just around the corner. Strawberries are here in Florida, Texas and California, next in late March and April for much of the South, then in May for most of the country and June in cooler northern areas. See how easy it is to make strawberry jam or strawberry-rhubarb jam! See this page for hundreds of easy canning and freezing instructions/recipes, canning equipment guide! Also make your own ice cream - see How to make ice cream and ice cream making equipment and manuals. Then see each state's crop availability calendar for more specific dates of upcoming crops. Organic farms are identified in green! See our guide to local fruit and vegetable festivals!. Please tell the farms you found them here - and ask them to update their information!!
Freezing Cantaloupes, Honeydew, Watermelons and Other Melons: Easy, Fully Illustrated Step-by-Step Directions and Recipe to Make Home Frozen Melon Balls!
Cantaloupes, watermelons, honeydews, and other melons are easy to freeze. You've probably seen them in the grocery store's freezer case or had them in a restaurant.
Here's how to do freeze the melons, with or without sugar!
- Melons: fresh Cantaloupe, Crenshaw, Honeydew, Watermelon, etc.
- Sugar (optional - but it does help retain color and flavor better and longer)
- Ice cream scoop - if you want to make melon balls
- Freezer containers or freezer bags
Step by Step Directions
Step 1 - Choose and prepare your cantaloupes
Cantaloupes should be selected as fully ripe (but not overripe) fruit. This is accomplished by selecting fruit by looking for
- stem separation from the fruit;
- thick, coarse and corky netting or veining which stands out on the surface; and
- yellowish-buff, yellowish-gray, or pale yellow skin color between the netting.
- A ripe cantaloupe will also have a pleasant cantaloupe odor when the stem scar is held under the nose.
- The stem scar will also yield slightly to light pressure.
Avoid cantaloupes and melons that appear to be overripe. The indicators of overripeness are: a pronounced yellow rind color, softening over the entire rind, and soft, watery and soft, mushy flesh.
Cantaloupe pieces need to be syrup packed but do not need to be treated to prevent discoloration. The procedures to freeze cantaloupe are outlined below.
Step 3 - Prepare the syrup
You will need a cold 30 percent sugar syrup. You can use some honey instead - see the footnotes. To make the syrup, dissolve sugar in lukewarm water, mixing until the solution is clear. Chill the syrup before using. Here are syrups to freeze melons:
|Type of Syrup||Percent Syrup||Cups of Sugar*||Cups of Water||Yield of Syrup
|Very Light||10%||1/2||4||4 1/2 cups|
|Light||20%||1||4||4 3/4 cups|
|Medium||30%||1 3/4||4||5 cups|
|Heavy||40%||2 3/4||4||5 1/3 cups|
|Very Heavy||50%||4||4||6 cups|
* In general, up to one-fourth of the sugar may be replaced by corn syrup or mild-flavored honey. A larger proportion of corn syrup may be used if a very bland, light-colored typed is selected.
Step 3 - Cut up the melons
Cut the melons in half, remove seeds and rind. Cut melons into slices, cubes or balls. An ice cream scoop is great for making balls.
Step 4 - Fill containers
Pack into containers and cover with syrup. If you are not using syrup, just fill the containers!
Step 5 - Add the Syrup (Optional, but recommended)
Use just enough cold syrup to cover the prepared fruit after it has been placed in the container (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of syrup per pint). To keep fruit under the syrup, place a small piece of crumpled parchment paper or other water-resistant wrapping material on top, and press fruit down into the syrup before sealing the container, or use ziploc freezer bags, so you can squeeze out air and seal.
Step 6 - Seal and freeze
Seal the containers (leave some empty headspace IF you are using rigid containers that could break). If you are using a vacuum sealer (which works great) freeze the bags unsealed (but obviously upright) then seal them after they have frozen overnight..
Step 7 - Label the bags or containers!
"Sharpie" marking pens work well on plastic and won't rub off.
Step 8 - Done!
Pop them into the freezer, on the quick freeze shelf, if you have one!
Later, when you are ready to serve the corn, just thaw them in the fridge!
Additional Recipe: Mixed Fruit Freeze
- 2 lbs. cantaloupe, peeled and cubed
(about 5 cups)
- 1 c. seedless red grapes
- 1 banana, cut into chunks
- 1 peach, peeled, cut into chunks
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 c. lowfat (2%) milk
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 c. apple juice
Cover mixture with foil. Place in freezer 30-40 minutes, until firm.
Remove fruit freeze from freezer. Run warm water around bowl to loosen frozen mixture. Remove fruit freeze from bowl. Cut into 2-inch chunks. Place the fruit chunks in a mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup apple juice. Use an electric mixer and beat mixture until very creamy, about 3 minutes. Repeat with other half of fruit chunks and remaining apple juice.
|Nutritional Analysis (per serving): Calories:136; Protein:1.9 gm; Carbohydrates:32.9 gm; Total Fat:0.826 gm; Cholesterol:1.14 gm; Dietary Fiber:1.54 gm; Vitamin A:382 RE; Vitamin C:54 mg; Calcium:36 mg; Potassium:512 mg; Sodium:19.6 mg; Diabetic Exchanges: 2 1/3 Fruit|
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