Thursday July 01st 2010, 11:03 pm

cucumber tendrils

Each month when the Tigress’s can jam canning challenge ingredient has been announced, I’ve been relieved that it wasn’t up to me to choose. Being the only Brit taking part, it seemed such a massive responsibility to come up with a seasonal ingredient that would somehow accommodate all canjammers, travel half way around the world and fit into everyones canning calendar. Then the other day Tigress emailed me to say it was my shot and for a moment I was filled with dread. I say a moment, and it really was just a moment, as if by divine suggestion, the word ‘cucurbits’ fell from the sky and landed right on my head. The Tigress’ Can Jam ingredient for July is cucurbits, but it’s cucurbits with a proviso (see below).

courgette plant growing on next doors allotment

In case you aren’t familiar with the term cucurbits, it refers to Cucurbitaceae, a plant family commonly known as melons and gourds, including crops like cucumbers, squashes (including pumpkins), loofahs, melons and watermelons…. So what’s the proviso? First let’s dispense with the loofahs! (too chewy), secondly, pumpkins and winter squashes, they’re out. It is most likely too early for them anyways but also they are troublesome ingredients to deal with for hot water processing and I aint taking responsibility for that.
So that leaves cucumbers, a traditional pickling favourite and one I want to learn lots about from you experts over in the US. (By the way, as far as I’m concerned, bread and butter pickle should actually contain what it says on the jar. Likewise ‘coffee cake’ Anyhow, I digress…) Summer squashes such as courgettes and marrows… ha… gotcha! Of course this is yet another strange difference in the language we share. To all you canjammers in the US, small zucchini and zucchini. I have Sarah at Toronto Tasting Notes to thank for help translating here. And finally, to bring a luscious sweetness to the proceedings, melons of all types.

young cucumbers starting to swell

I’m hoping this group of ingredients is specific enough to make sense as well as being wide enough to cater for everyone. I am finding that Tigress’ Can Jam is giving me the opportunity to try new ingredients I’ve never worked with before, as well as making me approach familiar ingredients in new ways or ways I hadn’t got round to trying. I think these cucurbits offer scope for all manner of pickles, chutneys, relishes and jams and I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with, as six months in, the canning done so far has been a total revelation. As previously mentioned, I want to learn how to can my cucumbers like I’m in that Little House on the Praire. Marrows, zucchini to most of you, I’ve always considered a waste of everybodies time, but I’m now ready to reconsider. There are endless recipes for marrow chutneys and jams and as this vegetable is effortless to grow, I really think it is time to learn to love this clod-hopping monster of a gourd.

marrows for sale

Courgettes, or small zucchini, are one of those glut kitchen ingredients that there are never enough uses for to reduce the surplus mountain, so it will be fabulous if some of you could come up with some essential recipes that the rest of us can’t live without.
And then there are the melons…. they fill me with such romantic notions; from the pickled watermelon rinds I’ve read of and dreamed about tasting, the spicy syruppy concoctions that might be sweet and sour at the same time, and finally, French inspired preserves, combining melon with lemon, or ginger, or raspberries, or peaches, that transport you to a village in Provence. Are you getting the gist?

Galia melon skin

I hope you feel inspired to go off and make cucurbits your own. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. If you need to refer to Tigress’ canning guide you will find it here. All recipes must be posted between friday july 16 and friday july 23rd, with friday july 23rd at midnight being the cut off point. Tigress has allowed two extra days at the beginning this month so if you are so inclined and you can get your post up on the earlier days, please do! as it will help her to get a head start on the round-up. (Bravo Tigress for all your work).

Ah, the noble family Cucurbitae. Torn between killer kosher dills and something elegant with melons. What I want most is to do citron melons, but they won’t be in until August here…

Comment by Sarah B. Hood 07.01.10 @ 11:39 pm

Wow, I had NO idea cucumbers and melons and squash were in the even remotely related. I have been gardening and canning all my life (srsly – picking green beans and getting them ready for jars was one of my chores growing up) and I NEVER made the connection. It seems so obvious now! Thank you for broadening my education.

Comment by Daisy Driver 07.02.10 @ 12:07 am

I love it, and love your pictures. Gardeners will certainly welcome the ideas from this challenge. I’ve been hoping melons would show up in the can jam. Last year I made a delightful chunky ginger melon sauce with honeydew, canteloupe and watermelon that’s at home on ice cream or as a chutney substitute (I was shamelessly cavalier with the ginger). I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone creates.

Comment by Anduin 07.02.10 @ 12:44 am

I do have to say that I LOVE YOU! Thank you, thank you thank you. I actually put in my last post that I hoped it would be cucumbers because, well, I am harvesting waaaaaaaaay too many cucumbers right now.

I didn’t know if they would be successful and when it comes down to it – 100 row feet of cucumbers was probably overkill. I haven’t counted them, but I bet I have at least 50 cucumber vines growing in my garden right now. Both crisper drawers are full of cucumbers and I am going to have to start using my hubby’s beer ‘fridge for extra storage.


Comment by RobbingPeter 07.02.10 @ 3:17 am

Dang it, cucumbers won’t be in for another month!

Comment by Amy 07.02.10 @ 3:22 am

Exciting! I love the wide range of options, the new knowledge of vegetable relations and the fact that I am going to make the watermelon rind pickles I’ve been talking about for ages. (I’ve never eaten them and am intrigued w/ the concept and excited by the use of something that would otherwise be compost only). Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!

Comment by talia 07.02.10 @ 4:37 pm

I also didn’t know they were related. Awesome! Yum!

Comment by Mimi 07.02.10 @ 7:50 pm

Yay, I’ve been waiting for this! Can’t wait to bust out some good ol’ fashion dill pickles!

Comment by Elle Ross 07.02.10 @ 9:11 pm

Alrighty then! It looks like it’s time for me to learn to pickle some cucumbers. And then I will most definitely make something sweet and melonish to celebrate that achievement! ūüėČ

Comment by Paige 07.03.10 @ 6:23 pm

This one will be a challenge: our cucumbers are just now coming into flower here in San Franciso, and I haven’t even seen any melons at the farmers market yet. Perhaps we’ll buy a few cucumbers and make a test batch of pickles — I hate to do that knowing how many we’re likely to be pulling out of the garden in a month or two.

Comment by Anita / Married ...with Dinner 07.03.10 @ 7:40 pm

I just made watermelon pickles last week and they’re delicious!

Comment by Brandy Stiefel 07.03.10 @ 10:25 pm

[…] first, there will be cucumbers. This entry was posted in challenges, cooking. Bookmark the permalink. ← Social Justice […]

Pingback by My Own CanJam Berry Roundup | Grow & Resist 07.04.10 @ 12:09 am

Wonderful pick. Of course, you can’t help but to wonder what the next pick will be and I didn’t even think of curcurbits. I’ve been really excited to experiment with cantaloups. Too bad I didn’t grow any charantais cantaloupes this year…And of course, I’ll want to start some serious pickling. I’ve got little picklers all over the vines…

Comment by Julia 07.04.10 @ 2:37 am

I love your photos,Gloria! And thanks for the education. I’m so glad I don’t have to make pickled loofah! We do have a bit of a challenge here in the SF Bay Area, as Anita noted: My garden cucumbers are about an inch long and we aren’t really seeing melons. But I’m about out of my family’s favorite pickles, so I won’t suffer too much over store-bought cukes.

Comment by Shae 07.04.10 @ 3:39 pm

Great choice! I am crossing my fingers we get some wee squash in soon. One of the things I have been wanting to try, Zuccini Pickles. I am going to use it as an excuse to a crinkle cut slicer.

Comment by Terri 07.05.10 @ 8:48 am

[…] again.¬† It happened like this;¬† Gloria announced the July Can Jam ingredient of the month: curcubits. (Curcurbits, curcurbits.. it’s just fun to say!)¬† So, I was perusing my various preserving […]

Pingback by Honeydew Melon Jam with Forsythia & Citrus « local kitchen 07.05.10 @ 9:08 pm

Love the selection this month. Now all I need to do is figure out whether to use some of the cucumbers from my garden or make something with melons. Choices, choices…

Comment by Cathy (breadexperience) 07.13.10 @ 4:27 pm

[…] and says “Given that we jammed ‘erries last month, this month I’m thinking… cucurbits.” (Gesundheit).¬† Cucurbits are plants in the family cucurbitaceae, or […]

Pingback by Can Jam: Cantaloupe & Blackberry Preserves with Chardonnay « local kitchen 07.17.10 @ 4:31 pm

[…] other chores.¬† I might also get in my jam for Tigress’s July Can Jam.¬†¬† Cucurbits are up this month, and I’m terrified – but the challenge is pushing me to do […]

Pingback by Canning Time Again « Living In A Local Zone 07.18.10 @ 5:22 pm

[…] can jam canning challenge and for July the choice of ingredients was mine, and I choose cucurbits. I began by making a jam to use up some Galia melons I’d bought to photograph, along with some […]

Pingback by laundry etc 07.20.10 @ 9:56 am

[…] over at Laundry,Etc¬†chose July’s key canning ingredient!¬†¬† Not the whole family of cucurbits…but […]

Pingback by Can Jam- July Edition: Cucurbits! | Grow & Resist 07.20.10 @ 8:15 pm

[…] When Gloria over at Laundry, ETC. named this month’s can jam project to be cucurbits, to be honest, I wasn’t excited. […]

Pingback by Leena Cooks n Cans: Cucumber and Zucchini Pickles/Relishes for July’s Tigress Can Jam! | Leena Eats 07.20.10 @ 9:08 pm

[…] month, the item of choice was the cucurbit family, which includes cucumbers, squash, and melons.¬† Of course, I chose […]

Pingback by July Can Jam: Dill Pickle Chips! « oh, briggsy… 07.23.10 @ 7:27 pm

[…] under Pickles, Sauces, Salsas, and Chutnies ·Tagged 2010, canjam, cucumber, relish When I saw the ingredient for the can jam this month I must admit, my heart sank a little. Pickled cucurbits […]

Pingback by Hot Dog Relish « Putting By 07.23.10 @ 8:04 pm

[…] Vinegar Pickle #1 The July Can Jam stumped me. It wasn’t so much the trans-Atlantic translation problem of “marrows” […]

Pingback by Mixed Vinegar Pickle #1 « Doris and Jilly Cook 07.23.10 @ 10:27 pm

[…] by innBrooklyn I was fascinated to read Gloria’s selection for the July canjam — cucurbits – the plant family that includes cucumbers, melons, zucchini….¬† When I thought about […]

Pingback by Of humble pickles and Pterosaur wings « innBrooklyn 07.24.10 @ 2:36 am

[…] year, it’s still rather early here for cucumbers, but the CanJam challenge — hosted by Gloria at Laundry Etc. — waits for no woman. The biggest cukes in our garden are barely longer than my thumb, and […]

Pingback by Married …with dinner » Blog Archive » Not quite kosher 07.24.10 @ 4:31 am

Thank you so much for hosting this month — I can’t wait to see what everyone puts up.

Our cucurbits are here:

Comment by Anita / Married ...with Dinner 07.24.10 @ 4:35 am

Great blog.. and great post!!!

We’re just getting into pickling season here in Oregon and I’m looking forward to it.



Comment by tod 07.28.10 @ 6:09 pm

[…] July’s Can Jam is cucurbits (that’s kyoo-kur-bits to you), and I’d like to thank Laundry Etc. for educating all of us by selecting this interesting mouthful. Did you know that cucumbers, […]

Pingback by Don’t Squash Me: A Recipe for Pickles « Hitchhiking to Heaven 07.25.11 @ 12:29 am