Message from the Gardener: Part 2 Citron Melon

Another fruit we grew in our garden last year was the citron melon. At one time this melon was widely grown in Canada and was a popular fruit because it was so flavourful when eaten fresh. Citron has a tough outer rind and will keep for several months indoors – even at room temperature. I kept mine in the basement from late Sept. until early Jan. and they did not go bad. Note that the Citron Melon is not related to or anything like the Citron Peel you can buy in the store.
So what to do with Citron Melons? The solution was to make some preserves. When I started I found out just how tough the rind was and needed a carving knife. Once cut open, the melon has red seeds evenly distributed throughout the fruit. It took some time to remove the seeds and cut the melon into bite size pieces.
There are various recipes available for citron preserves but they usually involve mixing fruit with ginger, lemons and sugar. I tried 3 different recipes with the following results:
Recipe 1 – treated the citrons like pickles. The melon pieces were soaked in brine for a day and drained and rinsed several times. Then they were boiled in a mix of sugar, lemon juice and lemon pulp with ginger root. The end product was a nice yellow colour with chunks of solid fruit.
Recipe 2 – The melon pieces were boiled in a mix of sugar, lemon juices and ginger root and toward the end crushed pineapple was added. This mixture carmelized quite a bit and did not have many chunks of fruit – everything was reduced to a pulpy mass.
Recipe 3 – Again the melon pieces were treated like pickles as above. After this they were boiled in a mix of sugar, cinnamon stick and cloves. This made for quite a different flavour.
Because citron melon has so much pectin in it, all these products are very thick and have a firm set.
Come by on Sunday, May 9th to sample these products at our annual Mother’s Day Tea!

Message from the Gardener: Part 1 Lemon Cucumbers

During 2009, we grew many interesting vegetables in our Heritage Garden. Much of it was donated to our local food bank (they were often intrigued by our unusual harvest). Two of the foods we grew were popular 60-100 years ago but we rarely see today – lemon cucumbers and citron melon.

Here is a picture of the lemon cucumbers. They tasted like cucumbers and were rather seedy but looked more like lemons. It turned out that the vines were quite productive and since we harvested so many, it was possible to make some pickles with them. The pickles turned out yellow but I think it was because of the tumeric. Here is a picture – oops, I ate some! They are a bread and butter type pickle and kind of sweet in flavour.

We are now planning our garden for 2010. If you are interested in volunteering contact Rebecca at pmmuseum@telus.net.