Melons, pectin and hot peppers
It’s Melon Season! Summer and fresh, juicy melons are a perfect match! Whether you grow them or buy from somewhere else, handling and prepping them safely at home is important.
It is easy to forget that melons grow on the ground. They are exposed to the pests and microorganisms from the soil. Here are some tips to safely prepare your melon.
• Select a melon with no imperfections. Damage to rinds can cause mold growth or other bacteria to travel to the inside of the melon.
• Before cutting the melon, wash your hands. Be sure equipment and utensils are clean and sanitized, including your sink.
• Place the melon under running water and scrub the outside rind with a produce brush.
• Cut the melon and rinse the pieces as you go. Serve immediately. Store any cut melon leftovers in the refrigerator.
Does pectin expire?
In a word, yes. It is not a food safety issue. It is a quality issue. If pectin is past the expiration date on the package, the product made with this pectin will not gel or work as it should. This is true for both liquid and dry pectin.
Dry pectin is made from citrus peel. Liquid pectin is made from apples. They are not interchangeable in recipes. For best results, use the type of pectin listed in the recipe.
The ripeness of fruit will affect the gelling properties. Under-ripe or over-ripe can affect how a jam or jelly gels.
If you eat foods with hot peppers, you likely know the spiciness, or heat, can vary a lot.
The heat comes from a group of compounds called capsaicinoids, including the well-known capsaicin. This fiery compound causes “chemesthesis” in which the receptors inside the mouth react to pain, touch and heat. Some may call it pain, others call it pleasure.
Chile peppers varieties have a varying amount of heat can also be quite different within the same variety. Growing conditions will also determine heat in peppers. If the plant is stressed, the peppers will produce more capsaicin.
The pith, or white membrane, contains a majority of the heat from capsaiscin. Simply cut out the pith, as well as the seeds, to cool down the heat. Save those to add back to a recipe if more heat is desired. The size of pepper makes little difference in heat pungency.