Up until recently I gave little thought to the actual fruit itself but pomegranates grow well here in Arizona. Perhaps it is because of my new-found focus on seasonal produce that real in-the-flesh pomegranates have been showing up before me this year.
De-seeding the rosy red fruit is a cumbersome, multi-step process that is fraught with some peril since the juice stains. I was introduced to this process (and the warning) at a party in October when our hosts willingly shared the bounty from the tree in their back yard. Eating pomegranates reminds me of eating sunflower seeds or pistachios. There’s a whole lot of work involved for a little measly result; still plucking the seeds out of the white flesh is actually kind of addicting.
This is just one more reason why I tip my hat to my friend Vickie for her pomegranate jelly. Vickie is an Arizona native and remembers the days before population growth and urban sprawl took over when “rural” Phoenix was full of dairy farms and orchards. She’s been picking and eating pomegranates since she was a kid (read this as she has had years of practice). Regardless, the process of de-seeding the fruit is still time-consuming and somewhat tedious. Then, once you have the seeds, you still have to juice them. Sheesh!
As the recipient of one of the cute little jars pictured above (and since I’ve never canned anything in my life), I asked Vickie if she had any pearls of wisdom or words of warning to share with my readers. Vickie acknowledged that next time she would skip the de-seeding process/juicing process and start with 100% pomegranate juice that you can buy from stores like Trader Joe’s. This is encouraging if you don’t have access to pomegranate trees in your local area. If you do go the fully natural route her warning is to plan ahead; the juice has to sit for a few days before its ready to be used.
So, I’m thankful to have been on the recipient list for Vickie’s pomegranate jelly. I can’t wait to try the jelly in the streusel short bread recipe that I’ve got lined up to cook in the next day or so.
Pomegranate Jelly Recipe from Simply Recipes
The process of canning jelly is specific to what fruit you are canning, the type of pectin you are using – whether natural, liquid, powder – and the ratio of juice to sugar to pectin. If you plan to store your jelly on a shelf, and not in the refrigerator, you need special canning equipment to ensure against spoilage.
- 4 cups pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 package powdered pectin
- 5 cups white cane sugar
- You’ll also need:
- 6-7 Eight ounce canning jars
- Make or buy the juice. If making the juice, see the two tips below on the best ways to accomplish these.
- Prepare canning jars. Seep the clean, empty canning jars in boiling water for several minutes. Boil a few cups of water in a separate kettle and pour over the lids in a small bowl to sterilize.
- Measure pomegranate juice and lemon juice in a 6-quart pan. Add pectin, stir and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Reach a full rolling boil, that cannot be stirred down, and add sugar. Boil hard for exactly 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand for a minute and skim off foam.
- Fill jars to 1/2″ of the top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2-piece lids.
- Finish canning. This step you need to take if you plan to keep the jelly unrefrigerated. Place the jelly jars, not touching, on a rack in a tall pot of boiling water. The water should cover the top of the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 5 minutes and then remove from the water. Let the jars cool. Check seals, the lids should be sucked down (you’ll hear a popping noise as the jelly cools). Once the jars reach room temperature, put them in the refrigerator for a few hours to complete the jellying. Lasts about 3 weeks once opened.
Yield – 6-7 cups.
Making the juice:
There are two basic ways to make pomegranate juice from fresh pomegranates. The first is to cut open a pomegranate and submerge it in a large bowl filled with water. Remove the seeds underwater; they will sink to the bottom while the white membrane holding them together will float. Discard the peel and membranes. Strain the seeds and put them in a blender. Pulse the blender only a few times so that the seeds are broken up. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the seed mixture through the strainer. Use a rubber spatula to help press the pulp against the strainer as to extract as much juice as possible.
The second way to juice a pomegranate is to use a juice press. I have an old fashioned press that I use. I wash the pomegranate and cut it into quarters or halves, depending on how big the pomegranate is. I then crush the sections with a press and strain the juice through a mesh strainer. I have found that this method takes half the time or less of the first method, but the flavor can be a little more bitter because you are squeezing the peel as well.