Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nostalgia with Makataan konfyt (watermelon preserve)

I am cheating a bit this time, as the preserve in the blog was not actually made by me, but by my mom.  I thought you would not mind, as this is such a special recipe and so very time consuming to make, that it deserves a post.  It just does.

We found a huge makataan at the farmers' market last weekend and when we did, my mom and I were both giddy with excitement.  It has been years since we found a watermelon with a skin thick enough worthy of the effort of making preserve.  Makataan is just perfect, as the skin is all you are really after.  

My mom took on the almighty task of preserve making this week and by friday she was ready to bottle them.  This is not a process for the fainthearted, because it takes a full week of tender, loving care to get the end result in the bottle, but boy is it worth it.  Nothing, absolutely nothing compares you for that first bite into the sweet, sticky, gingery, syrupy deliciousness.  

For me a smell or a taste, sometimes even a sound can transport me to a different place.  I am not talking about anything extra-ordinary or outer-body, just imaginary.  Eating the preserve did just that.  It gave me a nostalgic glimpse into a past shared with grandparents, aunts and uncles.  Making preserves, jams, dried fruit, special biscuits were such a big part of our lives growing up.  A huge chunk of my childhood memories consist of us, sitting around a table in our or my grandmothers' kitchens peeling, boiling, tasting and eating.  Both my grandmothers were very industrious in the kitchen and their pantries were always filled with jars and cans and tins of goodness.  I adored that about both of them.  My mother continues the tradition and I hope to fill her shoes one day too.

Makataan preserve

Note:  You can use the peel of a watermelon as well, but the white part has to be at least 5cm thick.

1 Makataan
Sugar (one pound for every pound of fruit)
Lime (12,5 ml for every 3.5 litres of water)
Dried ginger pieces 

Slice and peel the makataan.  Then prick with a fork on the upper surface.  Dilute the lime with the water and let stand overnight.  Rinse very well with cold water and then cover with hot water.  Let stand overnight again and discard the water.  
The same night as hot water stage, start boiling the sugar syrup.  Use one pound sugar for every pound of fruit and cover with cold water.  Let the sugar dissolve over low heat and once dissolved, boil over medium-low heat until consistency of thin honey.  This may take some time.  Leave to cool overnight.

The next morning, re-heat the sugar syrup and then add the fruit.  Boil over a medium-low heat until the fruit is soft (a match should go into it easily).  Remove the fruit and leave again overnight.  

Re-heat the syrup the next morning and boil until thick bubbles form.  Add the fruit and boil until heated through.  Watch it closely as it will boil over easily.

Place in sterilized jars and seal well.  

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