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Makes 5 to 7 jars, 8 oz each
It's hard to find places to pick your own pomegranates, so most people will use store-bought . You can use frozen or bottled Pomegranate juice and skip the steps about preparing the pomegranates and making the juice, sieving, etc.
Pomegranate Jelly can ONLY be made in rather small batches - about 6 cups at a time - like the directions on the pectin say, DO NOT increase the recipes or the pomegranate jelly won't "set" (jell, thicken). As mentioned in the Ingredients section; you may use either 6 to 8 fresh pomegranates or 5 cups of pomegranate juice (either bottled or reconstituted from frozen concentrate) without added sugar. Using pomegranate juice is especially useful if you want to make some pomegranate jelly in December to give away at Christmas!
Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.
NOTE: If unsanitized jars are used, the product should be processed for 5 more minutes. However, since this additional processing can result in a poor set (runny jelly), it's better to sanitize the jars.
Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.
Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot jelly.
Check the directions with the pectin; typically, with regular pectin, it is 7 cups of sugar to 5 cups of pomegranate juice and one box of pectin. I prefer to use the no-sugar-needed pectin and then reduce the sugar to 4.5 cups. That produces the best taste, set and color . I also usually add an additional 1/4 box of pectin because I like a firm set. Mix the dry pectin with about 1/4 cup of sugar and Keep this separate from the rest of the sugar. If you are not using sugar, you'll just have to stir more vigorously to prevent the pectin from clumping. Set both aside until step 8.
I'm sure you can figure out how to wash the pomegranates in a large bowl under running plain cold water.
One large pomegranate yields between one-fourth to one-half cup of juice. There are a variety of ways to extract the juice. All involve crushing or pressing the seeds. You cut the pomegranates in half and scoop out the innards to release the juice.
We just want to bring the pomegranates almost to a boil to help release the juice and break down some of the fruit to help it pass through our jelly strainer. Put the crushed pomegranates in a big pot on the stove over medium to high heat (stir often enough to prevent burning) for until it starts to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
You can either put the soft cooked pomegranates through a jelly strainer (about $9.00, see ordering at right) which results in the most clear jelly and is easiest to use, or pour them through cheesecloth in a colander; or use a food mill. Or if you don't mind chunky jelly, just let the juice stand for 20 minutes, and Decant (pour off) the clear liquid to use and leave the solids behind.
You may also want to run the crushed cooked pomegranates through a Foley food mill (about $20 - see this page) BEFORE the jelly strainer - it helps to extract more juice and jet out the large skins that will clog the strainer. It's not necessary, but helps you get the most out of the pomegranates.
If you need a stopping point and want to finish up the next day, this is a good place. Sometimes, jelly gets crystals, called tartrate crystals, forming in the jelly. They're not harmful and don't affect the taste, but some people don't like the appearance. I rarely even see them! But if you do, let juice stand in a cool place overnight, then strain through two thicknesses of damp cheesecloth to remove any crystals that have formed.
Add the (optional) � cup of lemon juice, stir the pectin into the pomegranate juice and put the mix in a big pot on the stove over medium to high heat (stir often enough to prevent burning). It should take about 5 to 10 minutes to get it to a full boil (the kind that cannot be stirred away).
Notes about pectin: I usually add about 25% - 30% more pectin (just open another pack and add a little) or else the jelly is runnier than I like. With a little practice, you'll find out exactly how much pectin to get the thickness you like.
Another tip: use the low sugar pectin. It cuts the amount of sugar you need from 7 cups per batch to 4 cups! And it tastes even better! On the other hand; I have never had success using no sugar at all; even with the No-sugar-needed pectin. It always turned out runny and bland. You might want to try using the low sugar recipe with a mixture of sugar and Stevia (in a prepared form like Truvia, it measures same as sugar; if you use another form, you'll need do your own conversion) - or Splenda, if you prefer, ; that could work.
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If you didn't do so already, put the lids into a pan of hot water for at least several minutes; to soften up the gummed surface and clean the lids.
Need lids, rings and replacement jars?
When the pomegranate-pectin mix has reached a full boil, add the rest of the sugar (about 6 cups of sugar per 5 cup batch of pomegranate juice; 4 cups of sugar if you are using the low or no-sugar pectin) and then bring it back to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute.
I keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency I like, then I know the jelly is ready. If not, I mix in a little more pectin (about 1/4 to 1/2 of another package) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.
Fill them to within �-inch of the top, wipe any spilled jelly off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Then put them into the boiling water canner!
This is where the jar tongs come in really handy!
Keep the jars covered with at least 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. In general, boil them for 5 minutes, which is what SureJell (the makers of the pectin) recommend. I say "in general" because you have to process (boil) them longer at higher altitudes than sea level, or if you use larger jars, or if you did not sanitize the jars and lids right before using them. The directions inside every box of pectin will tell you exactly - and see the Table below for altitude differences. The directions on the pectin tend to be pretty conservative. Note: Some people don't even boil the jars; they just ladle it hot into hot jars, put the lids and rings on and invert them, but putting the jars in the boiling water bath REALLY helps to reduce spoilage! To me, it makes little sense to put all the working into making the jelly and then not to process the jars to be sure they don't spoil!
|Table 1. Recommended process time for Pomegranate Jelly in a boiling water canner.|
|Process Time at Altitudes of|
|Style of Pack||Jar Size||0 - 1,000 ft||1,001 - 6,000 ft||Above 6,000 ft|
Lift the jars out of the water with your jar lifter tongs and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.
Once cooled, they're ready to store. I find they last up to 12 months. But after about 6 to 8 months, they get darker in color and start to get runny. They still are safe to eat, but the flavor and texture aren't as good. So eat them in the first 6 months after you prepare them!
From left to right:
Summary - Cost of Making Homemade Pomegranate Jam - makes 6, possibly 7 jars, 8 oz each**
|Item||Quantity||Cost in 2008||Source||Subtotal|
|Pomegranates||9 whole or 5 cups of juice||$6.00 for 1 quart bottle of juice||Pick your own||$7.50|
|Canning jars (8 oz size), includes lids and rings||6 jars||$7.50/dozen||Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores||$3.75|
|Sweetener - see step 4||4.5 cups||$2.00||Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores||$2.00|
|Pectin (no-sugar, low sugar or regular, dry)||1 and a third boxes *||$1.60 per box||
or about $2.55 per jar
|* pectin use varies - blackberry jam
needs very little, raspberry a little more, strawberry the most.
** - This assumes you already have the pots, pans, ladles, and reusable equipment. Note that you can reuse the jars! Many products are sold in jars that will take the lids and rings for canning. For example, Classico Spaghetti sauce is in quart sized jars that work with Ball and Kerr lids and rings- some authorities do not recommend these, saying they are more prone to break, and while I have found that is true of mayonnaise jars, I have found the Classico spaghetti jars to be pretty sturdy.