Monday, November 10, 2008

Pomegranate Jelly

Fall means pomegranates come to market.  If you have a tree you have more than you could ever image possible to consume.  Or give away.  The latter is how I wound up a giant grocery bag full of them left on my doorstep the other day by our friend Kate.

They are buggers to clean in order to get to the juicy little seeds inside the pod.  Years ago I believe it was Malto Mario who showed how to cut them in half at the equator and then rap them hard repeatedly with a spoon to knock the seeds loose.  It works and is a lot less messy than trying to carve them out with a spoon.

After last weeks 90+  yesterdays surprise rain here in the SGV brought about some nice cool weather.  That got me in the mood to do some cooking.  The first challenge was what to do with all those pomegranates.  Jelly was the logical answer.  A quick search of the Certo Sure Jell site yielded the recipe.  Of course I can't help but add my own twist, a little lemon juice to tarten it up Just a little.

SURE.JELL Pomegranate Jelly   
  • 3-1/2 cups prepared juice (buy about 5 large fully ripe pomegranates)
  • 2 T lemon juice 
  • 1/2 tsp.  butter or margarine 
  • 1 box SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin 
  • 5 cups  sugar, measured into separate bowl  

Make It
 BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling. 

CUT pomegranates in half horizontally. Squeeze out juice from each half with orange juice press or citrus reamer. Place 3 layers of damp cheesecloth or a jelly bag in large bowl. Pour prepared fruit juice into cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth closed; hang and let drip into bowl until dripping stops. Press gently. Measure exactly 3-1/2 cups juice into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. 

STIR pectin into juice in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon. 

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 5 min. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

It is important to measure closely when making jelly and jam.  Probably less forgiving than baking in some respects.  The fresh juice does need to be filtered so you have a clear jelly.  I always start with a bit more juice than the recipe calls for to compensate for the reduction when you filter.  Filtering is easy, use a paper coffee filter and a strainer big enough to hold it then pour the juice through. 

A hard rolling boil looks like this.  It is boiling so hard that you can't stir down the bubbles.  Once at this point cook to the recommended time to ensure the jelly setting.
I've been told the water bath serves two purposes.  The first is to completely sterilize the contents in case you had any contamination in the process of filling the jars.  The other is to ensure a very tight seal.  Don't skip this step as you also have a very strong chance of your jelly not setting, but separating.
Of course that bit of foam and remnant of jelly when skimmed is always put aside in a tiny bowl.  Why?  Obvious is if that bit sets at room temp your canned jelly will too. get a little tasty treat for all your labors while you wait for the canned stuff to be ready.

No comments: