You won’t believe how delicious cantaloupe jam is! It’s simple to make and tastes like candy. It’s a great use for summer cantaloupe. Let me show you how I make my low sugar cantaloupe Jam!
This is not an old family recipe… It’s not a kind of jam that I remember from my childhood or a special recipe I learned from my grandma…
Honestly, until just a few months ago, I had no clue that it was possible to make jam from cantaloupe!
Here is what happened… Last year, I had a raised bed of cantaloupe in the garden.
It did so well! From the few plants that I planted in that raised bed I got so so many delicious, sweet, and juicy cantaloupes.
Low Sugar Cantaloupe Jam…
I sold some of them at the farmer’s market but I was still left with so many. So I diced them and divided them into portions for smoothies and stuck the bags in the freezer.
My thought was that I’d use the cantaloupe for smoothies with whatever other fruit I had fresh or frozen during the winter until the next summer when new fresh cantaloupe would be harvested.
Arrr… I have to admit that I am horrible at making smoothies. My kids love them but they somehow never fit in my day… It’s just so much easier for me to hand the fruit fresh to the kids and move on to the next kitchen activity.
Anyway, the frozen cantaloupe was left in the freezer forgotten for months.
I try to make it a rule that I use all of my preserved food within a year of freezing it. So before I started planting seeds indoors for the approaching growing season, I had to go through the contents of my freezer and clean it out.
I stared at the bags of cantaloupe and had no idea what I was going to do with so much of it… So I asked the amazing folks on my Facebook page if they had an idea and a few people mentioned cantaloupe jam.
Seriously, I hadn’t even considered it… They also mentioned cantaloupe cake which I’ll have to try this summer but if you’ve been hanging here with me on the blog you know that I love making jam and the whole family love consuming jam.
So the decision was made, I was going to try and make cantaloupe jam!
I looked around and like always all the jam recipes that I found included three tons of sugar… This was a new jam for me so I wasn’t sure if my regular process of reducing the sugar was going to work but I decided to give it a try.
It worked so so well! I made this cantaloupe jam just like I make all of my other jams; with much less sugar and no store-bought pectin.
I was so surprised by the taste of it… It tastes like candy. If I didn’t know that it was cantaloupe I would not have guessed it. It’s sweet and special and delicious!
Ok, shall we make cantaloupe jam? We shall!
Kitchen Tools That We Are Going to Need…
Before we learn how to make cantaloupe jam, let’s gather all the kitchen tools that we are going to need…
Mixing bowl – you will need a bowl to place all of your cantaloupe pieces in as you cut and so you can weight the fruit.
Cutting board – to cut your cantaloupe into small pieces.
Knife – to cut the cantaloupe.
Large pot – you’ll see below that I processed a large amount of cantaloupe. I used a large pot but you might be able to use a smaller one if you are not processing as much cantaloupe as I did.
Kitchen scale – you’ll have to measure how much cantaloupe you have in order to know how much sugar you’ll need. And then, you’ll have to measure your sugar as well.
Wooden spoon – to stir the jam.
Immersion blender – to blend the fruit and smooth the jam.
Canning utensils – we will use all of them; the funnel, the jar lifters, the magnetic lid lifters and so on…
Ladle – to ladle the jam into the jars.
Pint jars – I think that the best jar size for this jam is either pint or half-pint with the regular mouth.
Paper towel – I always use a clean paper towel to clean the rim of my jars before I cover and close them.
Lids and bands – to cover and close the jars before processing.
Small pot – to sanitize the bands and lids.
Water bath canner – to process the jam.
Preparing the Cantaloupe For Cantaloupe Jam…
As I mentioned before, my freezer was full of cantaloupe and it was time to clean it before the growing season.
So I pulled all the bags of cut cantaloupe out of the freezer and set them on the counter.
Then I removed the bags and ended up with 11.5 pounds of frozen cantaloupe.
If you grow cantaloupe and don’t have time to process jam during the growing season then it’s really easy to cut it and throw it in the freezer. There is no need to blanch it as you would with potatoes, beans, carrots, leeks or any other vegetable.
Then, you can use it frozen whenever you want to make jam.
If you are using fresh cantaloupe, remove the skin and seeds and dice it. Then weigh your cantaloupe so you know how much sugar to add.
Making Cantaloupe Jam…
I add my cantaloupe into a pot, in this case it was a large stockpot because I had so much cantaloupe. Of course, if you process less cantaloupe you can use a smaller pot…
And then I add my sugar.
I always follow a ratio of one part fruit to 1/2 part sugar (even a little less sugar!). Traditionally, you’re supposed to follow a 1:1 ratio but for me it’s just too much sugar. The jam is too sweet and I can’t taste the fruit.
1 to 1/2 is perfect in my opinion because the jam is still sweet, I can can it and preserve it for months, and I can taste the fruit… It’s delicious.
So no matter how much fruit you are processing, add half of its weight in sugar. Follow the rest of the instructions in the same way, the only thing that is going to change is your cooking time.
To my 11.5 pounds of fruit I added 5 pounds of sugar.
After I add the sugar, I turn the heat on medium-high and start cooking the fruit (pot uncovered). I make sure to stir frequently so the bottom doesn’t burn.
Preparing the Jars and Canner…
While the fruit is cooking, I fill my water bath canner with water, set the rack inside and add my jars to the canner.
From the 11.5 lbs of cantaloupe that I processed, I produced 9 pints and one-half pint of cantaloupe jam.
You want to make sure that you fill the canner with enough water so when you add your jars of jam to the water bath canner the water covers the jars by about 1”.
I let the water in the canner come to a boil. I let the water boil for 5 minutes or so to sanitize the jars and then turn the heat down to keep the water simmering until the jam is ready.
While the jam is cooking and the water in the water bath is heating, I also take a small pot, fill it with water and add my bands and lids to it. I set it on the stovetop and bring it to boil as well.
I let it boil for 5 minutes to sanitize the bands and lids before I turn the heat off. I just leave the bands and lids in the hot water until I need them.
Cooking Low Sugar Cantaloupe Jam…
It took a while for my cantaloupe to thaw in the pot. After 45 minutes the mixture started to boil. If you are using fresh cantaloupe it won’t take that long.
Or if you are processing less fruit, it won’t take that long.
Bottom line is that we want to bring the cantaloupe/sugar mixture to a boil. Once it’s boiling, let it boil for about 7 minutes before lowering the heat to just below medium.
Then I cook the fruit for an additional 10 minutes or so…
Making sure to stir frequently. At this point, foam starts to form on top of the fruit. Sometimes I use a spoon to scoop some of it out but not always… Sometimes I just mix it right back in. It doesn’t really matter.
When the fruit is soft, I use an immersion blender to blend it. I like my jam pretty smooth (except of my fig jam) so I blend the fruit all the way. If you like some larger chunks of fruit in your jam, feel free to not blend it all the way.
Now that the jam is smooth, I keep cooking it on a little below medium heat until it’s just about ready.
In this case I cooked it for an additional 40 minutes.
Adding Lemon And Thickening the Cantaloupe Jam…
After about 40 minutes, it was looking like the jam was starting to reach my desired thickness but it wasn’t all the way there…
At this point, I added the juice of one medium lemon (if you process less fruit you can add the juice of half a lemon) and I also added 8-9 lemon seeds to the jam.
Lemon seeds have natural pectin in them and they help the jam thicken (you can leave them in or fish them out when the jam is ready).
I stirred the juice and seeds in…
And kept cooking and stirring the jam for 15 more minutes until it reached my desired thickness.
It can take a bit of experience to know when a jam is ready. I usually scoop a little bit in a spoon and give it a few minutes to cool.
Then I tilt the spoon and add the jam right back to the pot. I watch the way it slides off the spoon to measure how thick it is taking into consideration that the jam keeps thickening as it cools completely.
Once the jam is ready and you remove it from the heat, you can add one or two teaspoons of vanilla extract to the jam and mix it in. This is optional but it gives the jam an even better taste.
Canning Cantaloupe Jam…
All right, so my jars are hot (they are still hanging out in the simmering water in the water bath canner), my lids and bands are ready to go and the jam is ready for canning.
I use my jar lifters to lift a jar from the canner and dump the hot water right back into the canner. Then I set the hot jar on my wooden cutting board.
I use the funnel and the ladle to fill the jar with the hot jam making sure to leave about an inch of headspace…
Then I use my bubble remover to remove air bubbles…
And a clean paper towel to clean the rim of the jar…
Next, I use the magnetic lid lifter to lift a lid from the small pot of hot water and I center it on the jar…
Lastly, I close the jar with the band finger tight (or in other words, not too tight).
I set my jar back on the rack in the water bath (the water there is still simmering) and move on to fill the next jar.
Once all my jars are in the canner, I cover the canner with the lid and turn the heat back to high to bring the water back to a rolling boil.
I process my cantaloupe jam for 10 minutes (no matter what jar size I used).
If you live above 1000 feet in altitude, adjust your processing time according to the table above.
Storing Cantaloupe Jam…
Once processing time is done, I turn the heat off, uncover the canner and let the jars rest in the hot water for an additional 10 minutes or so. Then, I use my jar lifters to lift them out of the canner and set them on the wooden cutting board or on a kitchen towel on the counter.
I let them rest and cool completely, undisturbed, overnight.
In the morning, before I store them, I make sure that all the jars have sealed by pressing on the center of each lid. If there is no movement there it means that the jar is sealed.
Usually all of my jars seal but if I have one that didn’t seal I store it in the fridge and use it first (you can also try to process it again).
I remove the bands, wipe down the jars and store them in a kitchen cabinet or in the pantry.
The reason that I remove the bands is that it’s easier to monitor what’s happening inside the jar if they are not in the way and also I reuse the bands for canning something else.
My general rule is that I try to use all of my preserved food within a year.
Serving Cantaloupe Jam…
This jam is delicious! It literally tastes like candy. It’s smooth and not too thick and is an amazing companion for your morning coffee.
I spread some butter on toast (or homemade bread) and top it with the jam. All I need is a cup of hot coffee. In my book, that’s the right way to start the day!
Any way you eat jam, cantaloupe jam will be great!
It has this unique taste to it and it’s not something I’ve ever seen available in a store. It’s a special homemade jam which makes it even more special and tasty.
Here in the South it’s pretty simple to grow cantaloupe and it’s a beautiful plant that I love having in the garden. It produces well but cantaloupes don’t last fresh for too long so I am really happy that I came across this cantaloupe jam idea.
Now I can say that there really can not be too many cantaloupes in the garden!
I hope that you’ll give it a try!
If you liked this post, you might like these ones as well…
- 11.5 lbs cantaloupe (or as much cantaloupe you want to process. PLEASE READ NOTES BELOW).
- 5 lbs Sugar (add half or a little less than half of the weight of your fruit in sugar)
- Fresh lemon juice from one medium lemon
- 8-9 lemon seeds
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
- Remove the seeds and skin of your cantaloupe and cut it into small pieces. Weigh your cantaloupe and add it to a pot. I started with 11.5 lbs of frozen cantaloupe.
- To the cantaloupe, add the sugar. Add 1/2 of the weight of your fruit in sugar. So if you are processing 6 lb of fruit, add 3 lb of sugar or even a little bit less. To my 11.5 lbs of fruit I added 5 lbs of sugar.
- Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Depending on how much fruit you are processing and the water content of your fruit, the time to bring it to a boil might change. Just keep stirring to make sure the bottom doesn't burn and let it all heat and come to a boil.
- Let the fruit/sugar mixture gently boil for 7 minutes then lower the heat to just below medium.
- Cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the fruit is soft.
- Use an immersion blender to blend the fruit. I like my jam smooth so I blend the mixture all the way but you can leave large chunks of fruit if you like.
- Keep cooking the jam for an additional 15 to 30 minutes or so. Again, cooking time might change. You want to see that the jam is starting to thicken. You'll see that some foam is forming at the edges and you can scoop it up and remove it with a spoon.
- At this point, when you see that the jam is starting to thicken but is not completely there yet, add fresh lemon juice (I added the juice of a medium lemon. If you are processing less fruit than I did you can add the juice of half a lemon). Also, add a few lemon seeds (they contain natural pectin and will help thicken the jam).
- Cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 15 minutes or until the jam is thick (I usually scoop some jam on a tablespoon and let it cool for a few minutes. Then I let it slide off the spoon right back into the pot and watch how thick it is. Just take into consideration that the jam will keep thickening as it cools).
- When the jam is done, remove the pot from the heat and stir a teaspoon (or 2 if you process a lot of fruit) of vanilla in the jam if you'd like.
- To can this jam, add enough water to the water bath canner. Place your clean, empty jars on the rack in the canner. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Let the water boil for 5 minutes to sanitize the jars. Then, lower the heat to keep the water simmering.
- Also, add your lids and bands to a small pot and cover with water. Set on the stovetop and bring the water to a boil. Boil the lids and bands for 5 minutes before turning the heat off.
- Use the jar lifters to lift a jar from the canner, empty the hot water back into the canner and set your jar on a wooden cutting board. Use a ladle and a funnel to fill the jar with the hot jam. Make sure to leave about an inch of headspace.
- Use the bubble remover to remove air bubbles from the jar.
- Use a clean paper towel to clean the rim of the jar.
- Use your magnetic lid lifters to grab a lid and center it on the jar.
- Use a band to close the jar finger tight.
- Use the jar lifters to place your jar back on the rack in the canner. Repeat until all of your jars are full of jam and are in the canner. The water in the canner should cover the jars by at least an 1''. Cover the canner and turn the heat back to high to bring the water in the canner to a rolling boil.
- Process jars (I use pint but you can use other sizes) for 10 minutes (processing time is the same for all jar sizes). If you live in altitude above 1000 feet you will have to adjust your processing time. Make sure to check the post for a table that will direct you on how to adjust the processing time.
- Once processing time is done, turn the heat off and uncover the canner. Leave the jars in the hot water for an additional 10 minutes.
- Use the jar lifters to lift the jars out of the hot water and onto a wooden cutting board or a kitchen towel on the kitchen counter. Let the jars cool completely overnight before removing the bands and storing the jars in the pantry (I use my jams within a year).
THIS IS IMPORTANT!
I am writing this recipe card describing how I made my jam with the amount of cantaloupe that I had to process. I harvest my cantaloupe during the summer from the garden and freeze it. Then when the season is over and I have more time I make cantaloupe jam.
I started with a huge amount of frozen cantaloupe. If you are starting with fresh cantaloupe or with a smaller amount just adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Also, weight your cantaloupe before you add it to the pot. Then weight your sugar. Just follow the rule of adding half of the weight of your fruit in sugar. This will be enough to sweeten the jam but not lose the flavor of the fruit and enough sugar to preserve the jam for a year.
If you are processing less cantaloupe than I did, add the juice of half a lemon instead of a whole lemon and add one teaspoon of vanilla instead of two (if you choose to add vanilla extract).
As for the lemon seeds... They have natural pectin in them and they help to thicken the jam. I used 8-9 for the amount of fruit that I processed. If you process less cantaloupe you can add fewer lemon seeds.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 304 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 35Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 0g