Under Angel Wings


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Diane's Pomegranate Jelly

This is our cousin, Diane. We were having coffee with some of our teacher friends recently, when one of us happened to mention that we wanted to make Pomegranate Jelly. It turns out that Diane learned how to make it from her friend Cara, whose grandmother taught her. Diane said she had some pomegranates that would be ripe soon, so we made a date to go shopping for supplies.

This is Diane at the end of our jelly-making afternoon when we decided to toast ourselves with some freshly squeezed juice. There is nothing better for us or better tasting on the planet!! This jar full is for the next day's batch, as the juice needs to sit overnight in the fridge so that the sediment will fall to the bottom.

As you can see, the kitchen survived, and so did we!! Here is the game plan...

These are most of the things that you will need. Jars, lids and rings washed and dried, lots of sugar, fresh juice that was squeezed the day before and allowed to settle overnight, several boxes of MCP pectin, a bit of butter, measuring cups, spoons, a canning funnel, a strainer (or cheesecloth) and a medium size cooking pot.

And of course you will need a large grocery bag full of ripe pomegranates!! Enough to make 12 pints, shown pictured...the fruit is expensive in the store, anywhere from $1.50 each to $2.00 each, so you'll need to search out friends and even strangers who have trees by the road or in their yard. Ask permission to pick the fruit! A lot of people don't bother picking any or all of them...

I researched the varieties of pomegranates on Google, and we are going to plant a few trees on our farm. They will start producing after about 4 or 5 years. The trees actually look more like large bushes, although they can be pruned to look more like trees. We are going to plant the 'Wonderful' variety. All of the varieties sounded good, tho!

Now for the tricky part...Diane loves to make Pomegranate jelly, so she asked her hubby for an orange juicer and a steam canner as gifts. Those two items are what make it all possible, but they are rather expensive, so I suggest beg, borrow or buy as a last resort. I borrowed the machines and the expert, which turned out to be a really fun thing to do!!

One last word, I don't believe it would be a good idea to make a double batch of the jelly at first. Start on a single batch until you get comfortable with the process. I have made double batches in a larger pot and they turned out equally as well, but it is a lot of boiling hot jelly to contend with at once!!

For a single batch, I use a 4 quart pot
For a double batch, I use a 6 quart pot

Here is the recipe for a single batch:

Pomegranate Jelly
Makes 6- 8 oz. jars or 3- pint jars

3 1/2 cups fresh pomegranate juice, squeezed the day before and allowed to settle overnight
1 box MCP pectin
5 cups white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon butter

In a medium size cooking pot, mix the juice and pectin. Stir, dissolving thoroughly by scraping the sides and making sure all the pectin is dissolved.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. Add sugar and butter and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. The butter will prevent excess foaming.

Boil hard for two minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and IMMEDIATELY pour the jelly into the jars. If you pause to do something, a "skin" will form on the jelly which will not disappear. Even with stirring it will not reabsorb properly!

After jelly is in the jars, get a table teaspoon and quickly skim any foam or bubbles that are at the very top of the jelly. You want the jelly to be completely clear from top to bottom. Then take a damp cloth and carefully wipe the inside of the jar rims and on the top of the rims to make sure there is no residue.

Put on the lids and rings and process the jars in the steam canner for 10 minutes after the water starts to boil. Remove carefully with hotpads- you should hear a 'ping!' for each jar as you remove them to cool on a cloth on the counter. Screw down the lids so that they are just tight.

Stand back and be amazed at yourself. You have just created something beautiful and delicious!!
Make several batches to give for Christmas gifts, because my family fights over the jelly, and I bet yours will as well! Tie the jars with a colorful green and red plaid ribbon, make fancy Christmas labels with your name and date, and tuck a little decorative spreader knife down the side of the jar, and voila!! Homemade gifts given with love...

On the day before you make jelly, you can cut and squeeze the pomegranates. This is a lot easier than I thought it would be, IF you use the orange juicer machine. Cut the fruit in half, and if it is a big pomegranate, cut the pieces in half again. Cut the little pointy ends off as well to eliminate bulk when you squeeze.

We set the juicer down in the sink to eliminate any splashes. There was very little squirting of the juice. Diane amazed me when she said that her pomegranates were a "stainless" variety, but it turned out to be true! No stains, I promise... Place a measuring cup between the legs to catch the juice. Place the piece with seeds pointing down, and pull the handle down firmly; you can move the piece to the side a bit to press more seeds, and you will get some more juice out of it. Throw the pulp in a pan or bowl to throw out when you're done. Pour the juice through a strainer or cheesecloth as you put it into the jar.

Continue squeezing the fruit until you have enough for the next day's batches. Put the lid on and store in the fridge overnight. In the morning you will see some sediment in the bottom of the jar which you will not use, it will just stay down in the bottom while you measure it out into a cup. It's very fine sediment so don't worry if some gets into the pot; it will be O.K.

Here Diane pours the freshly squeezed juice through a strainer into the jar to keep overnight. What we really wanted to do was drink it right then!! :D

Here's when I got into the act. Have everything set up ahead of time because that jelly gets to boiling fast and you have no time to fiddle around with anything. The jars, rings and lids should be pre-steamed in the steamer canner for 10 minutes after the water starts to boil, and they should be sitting by the stove with the funnel in one, ready to receive the jelly.

This is the rolling boil. Be very careful, it is way hot!! Stir a lot.

Like I said in the recipe, don't hesitate a second when the jelly has been at a rolling boil for 2 minutes, or a "skin" will form on the top of the jelly which you can not get out. It won't reabsorb with stirring. Tip the pot and begin pouring through the funnel and into the jars. Fill up to the bottom of the screw lines.

Take a teaspoon and gently skim the bubbles/foam off the top of the jelly. You want it to be clear from the top to the bottom. Discard the skim. To the right you can see the top of the steam canner. Everything is hot when you handle it so things tend to get set down quickly!

Take a damp cloth and carefully wipe the inside of the top of the jars, and the tops as well, to make sure that there is no residue. Put on the lids and rings and steam in the canner for another 10 minutes after the water starts to boil. Remove the jars very carefully, with potholders, as they will be VERY hot. You will hear a 'ping!' for each jar as they begin to cool on a cloth on the counter. Tighten down the rings and allow the jars to cool.

This is what the steam canner looks like without the lid on. When you remove the lid, tip it back towards you so that the steam goes toward the wall, thereby not burning you! These are the brands of the machines:

Juicer~ OrangeX Jupiter Large Commercial Juice Press (www.amazon.com)

Steam Canner~ Back to Basics brand (www.backtobasicsproducts.com)

O.K., O.K. I confess!! It was a bit of a mess, but it cleaned up quickly, and there were no stains.
I promise.

The very next day, my great-niece Elizabeth came over after school and she helped me make another two batches of jelly. I was so busy I forgot to get her hair combed before photos were taken...she had been wearing a Halloween hat all day at school! :D

This is what a nine year old does...she made toast, buttered it, and promptly cut around the crust in a square!! Oh well, you're only young once!! Lizzie loves Pomegranate Jelly and the juice. We all do!!
Dave came home from work and he just had to fix some toast and jelly right away...Enjoy!!

A very special thank-you to Diane and Cynthia for sharing and seeking out pomegranates for me!!
Diane sent this photo of her luscious pomegranates from her backyard tree. Aren't they gorgeous??

Meet Marianne!

This is Marianne, our son's very special friend, whom we got to meet and welcome to our home recently for our family celebration in honor of my dad. The day after the party we went up to visit the ranch and Marianne got to pick her first peach, a VERY historic occasion! The orchard had already been picked, but thankfully there were a few still left on the tree.

The weather was so beautiful, after our tour of the ranch we decided to go back home and get a picnic together and go down to the river for a hot dog roast. Since Marianne doesn't eat meat, she took a veggie burger to heat in a pie plate over the fire. That was a definite first on Jenkins Farms!! :D

 Later in the week my great-niece Elizabeth came over after school and we made some pie crust together for Grady's favorite dessert: Mile High Apple Pie. It turned out really, really good. I think we have some future expert pie bakers here!

On Thursday, Dave and I drove Grady and Marianne down to Monterey to get ready for her Triathlon on Saturday at Pacific Grove. We took the beautiful 17 Mile Drive down to Carmel which Marianne had never seen. It was a gorgeous day and we had a wonderful time. Notice all the kelp out in the water!
That was a preview for what Marianne was going to have to swim through at Pacific Grove in the first leg of her Tri.

Saturday early morning arrived and Marianne swam both of her laps out into the ocean!! Here she is emerging from the sea and getting ready to run up the steps to the transition area where she would get ready as fast as possible to ride her bike laps.

Here she comes, full speed ahead! We had our sign and shouted out encouragement as she rode by...

Another lap, still smiling!! Marianne's times on her four bike laps were all less than 15 seconds of each other, an amazing feat. Obviously she had trained very well!

Now it was time to run, the last leg of her Tri. She never seemed to falter and always gave us a great smile!

Marianne REALLY poured on the steam as she came across the finish line. Her final time beat every one on the Portland team except four teammates and her coaches!!! Woo, hoo Marianne!!! We are totally impressed. And all her efforts at training and fundraising went to benefit Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma  Society. She had to fundraise $4,000!! Way to go, Marianne.

The day after arriving home, Marianne looked at a house that she really likes in Portland. She had been looking for awhile in this great buyer's market. She decided to put in an offer and it was accepted, so Marianne is now a proud owner of a darling home in a great neighborhood. Grady has signed up to help with the renovation on the bathroom and a redo of the backyard where a lot of concrete needs to be removed. That will keep him busy for awhile!

Congratulations, Marianne, on a very successful Triathlon, and a beautiful new home in Portland. You are really on a roll, girl, and we are VERY proud of YOU!

Bruce's Centennial Celebration

A few weeks ago my family celebrated what would have been our dad's 100th birthday. He actually passed away in 2006, but our family loves history and loves to celebrate, so my sister, Jan, and I decided to have a party!

As the centerpiece of the event all of us cousins contributed family photos to an already organized slide show which had been prepared by our cousin, Ron, for my Aunt Dorothy's 90th birthday celebration 6 years ago.
I have selected a few favorites to share on my blog.

Dad was born in Point Richmond, California in 1909. At that time his father, Clarence, was editor of the Richmond Record newspaper and Superintendent of the Contra Costa County Hospital in Martinez. City life did not suit him well, though, and the doctor recommended that he return to a life of farming.

So Grandpa C.W. climbed on the train and traveled up the Sacramento Valley to look for good farm land. He saw the prime soil and plentiful water of the Feather River, and got off at Live Oak where he was taken around in a horse and buggy to see the Sunset Colony farms. He purchased land near the river and our family farm was born!

C.W. and Minnie's family was complete with the births of Bruce, Raymond (left) and daughter, Dorothy.

Aunt Dorothy and her husband, Ron, returned to live on the farm at Ronnie's retirement, and she continues to live there to this day, at the age of 96!

This is a family picture of, from left, Raymond, Bruce, Minnie and C.W. Dorothy took the photo.

When they purchased this home the ground all around was completely bare. C.W. and Minnie planted many trees over the years to create a garden showplace.

Dorothy and Ronny built a new home on the site in 1980, but all the trees remain.

Bruce and Raymond grew up hunting and fishing on the farm and in the river bottoms in order to put food on the table in the early years.

One year Grandminnie (what she wanted to be called instead of grandma) had to go to the Rideout Bank in Marysville and borrow $60 for sacks of beans and supplies to get them through the winter!

This is Bruce with his first deer at age 18. The vehicle is what was left of the Model T that dad's friend, Earl, had worked on. Daddy said it ran 25 mph at top speed!

After attending Yuba Junior College, Bruce was accepted to the first class of the California Nautical School, now the California Maritime Academy. As an important part of the curriculum extended cruises were taken by the cadets on the ship, the U.S.S. California State, including trips to South America in 1932 and around the globe in
1933. The trip in 1933 was the first time the California state flag circumnavigated the globe.

Bruce and his fellow cadets had many momentous experiences during the 'round the world cruise, including climbing the pyramids of Egypt, and having audiences with Mussolini and Italian King Victor Emanuel. In Rome they were privileged to have an audience with Pope Pius XI when they were allowed to kiss his ring and think of an object on their body to have blessed. Bruce could only think of a beer bottle opener resting uncomfortably in his dress uniform pocket which was thus blessed and became a treasured keepsake.

Bruce graduated as a Marine Engineer in 1933, and was Commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He sailed with the United Fruit Company on ships such as the S.S. Talamanca until 1938.

Raymond (left) and Bruce showing off their pheasant while home visiting the farm.

Bruce volunteered to sail with the Merchant Marine in 1943 until the end of the war. He had several close escapes while ferrying Marines and explosives across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. His ship was nearly hit by a kamikaze in the Battle of Okinawa, but the plane was shot down by the guns on board.

After the war Bruce returned to ranching with his father and brother. On Palm Sunday, 1947, he married Mary Higgins of Live Oak, both on left. Standing up with them were Anne Tomasavich and Raymond Jenkins.

Bruce and Mary on their honeymoon in San Diego at the home of Bruce's sister, Dorothy. They continued on down to San Felipe, Mexico for the rest of the trip.

In the 40's and the 50's Bruce, Raymond and Dorothy had several children to add to the next generation.

Sitting on the front steps of the old farmhouse are (from left):
Holly, Larry, my sister Jan, April, Ron, Rich, and Rob holding the baby Sylvia. I guess I wanted my mom!!

Jan and I amongst the prune blossoms.

Sylvia at my first job on the ranch~
picking up prunes! I'll bet it was not a very fast process at that age...:D

This is my favorite portrait of my family. It was taken on one of our Christmas trips down to San Marino to visit Aunt Dorothy, Uncle Ronny, and Rob, Ron and Rich.

Isn't this the quintessential American family from the 1950's? I still have my ballerina doll, just as beautiful as it was on that day...

Sylvia, Mary, Jan and Bruce

Bruce and Mary, on the advice of C.W. who said it would remain cooler during the summer heat waves, designed and built themselves an adobe brick home across the street from the old farm house.

In the back yard is a now 500 year old Blue oak tree, an anomaly in the area as they usually grow in the foothills, not in the valley. It has provided shade for our family for several generations, and before that for any number of Maidus and Spaniards.

Bruce and Mary on a summer's day during the early 1970's, in the back yard with my dog, Winnie.

Also, Mom and Dad at their surprise 25th wedding anniversary party in 1972.

Bruce holding his granddaughter, Olivia, in 1977, with an adoring grandmother looking on.

Bruce standing with Dorothy and Ronny under the Blue oak.

In 1979 Bruce celebrated his 70th birthday at a party at my home in Marysville. Bruce's family was now complete until the next generation came along!

Back row: Bob, Sylvia holding Grady Bruce, Dave
Middle row: Jan, Chris, Jim
Front row: Bruce, Olivia, Mary

Mary and Bruce under the Blue oak.

Bruce and Mary hold Elizabeth Marie, their first and only great-grandchild. Hopefully more will come!

Lizzie is our shining star of the next generation, and the future of our family farm.

John Nichols and his brother, Tom, grew up on the farm adjoining ours.

Their parents, Tom and Rosemary, were childhood friends of Bruce, Ray and Dorothy, and attended the same country school.

Here John talks to Bruce on a visit home.

This is mom and dad at Christmas time in 2005.
Daddy passed away in January of 2006, mom in September of the same year.

We will always miss them both greatly, but all we have to do is look around at their family and their farm and we can see their lives continuing on into the future.

We honor their lives of hard work and devotion to God, country, family, friends, and farm, and their marriage of 58 years.