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??


Anonymous said...

Hi Silvia,
Welcome to the world of pomegranate jelly making. It looks like you had fun. We put up 79 jars of pomegranate jelly yesterday but use a slightly different method to eliminate the bitterness that comes from squeezing the pulp as well as the seeds. We use a steamer to pop the seeds which gives us crystal clear jelly with no bitterness. We have doing this with a group of friends for almost 15 years now and have it down to a science.

Shanna in Sacramento

Kristine said...

Thanks for the article! I just moved into a cute little place in the country with abundant pomegranate trees. I've never made jelly before, but decided I want to put juice and jelly up. I've just done one batch in a steam juicer so far. A grocery sack of pomegranates made 5 quarts of juice. I'm researching how to make jelly with the juice now, and found your article very helpful. Thanks! Do you have any suggestions on making the jelly with less sugar? I read that I could add the juice of a high pectin fruit, like apples or cranberries, or use a low sugar pectin in the box - but wonder if it'll turn out too bitter without enough added sweetener. Perhaps the fact that I used a steam juicer, so the seeds were not bruised (and thereby releasing their bittering flavor), means I can get away with not adding any sugar? I know I'll probably just have to experiment, but I'm hoping your friend already has. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Fabulous motivation you have provided. Went to the Farmers Mkt., got a bag of poms and we were on our way. We used an electric orange juicer, piece of cake. Let the juice sit overnight, it was a no fuss, quick affair! Yum yum!
Thanks for the sample AND the encouragement!