Nothing quite compares to the stunning beauty of pomegranate seeds. It is no wonder that Persephone was tempted to eat those offered to her by Hades in the Greek mythological story. Sadly, just like in the story, pomegranate is only available during a short time of the year. Hrumph!
So the trick is to figure out how to keep that lovely fruit, and it’s delicious flavor, around for more than just the harvest season. What better way than to transform those garnet hued jewels into a sparkling, garnet hued jelly that can be enjoyed any time of the year?
Now, you could go the added pectin route, which will give you a pretty jelly, if looks are all that’s important to you. But isn’t it what’s on the inside that counts? So how about going the flavor packed route instead, and use those saved up apple cores and peels you’ve been stockpiling in the freezer. You’ll get looks AND flavor. Sounds like a win to me.
What?! You haven’t been saving apple cores and peels and you have a bunch of pomegranate that you want to use before it goes bad and OH MY GOD THE SKY IS FALLING!!! Calm, be calm, it’s okay. You can start the process of getting the juice from your pomegranate and then store it in the freezer until you have those apple parts ready to go. See? All is right in the universe. (Try this jelly smeared on my Whole-Wheat Sourdough Bread with a slathering of my Homemade Peanut Butter!)
Pomegranate Jelly Recipe
This process will require three easy steps: making the juice, making the pectin, and then making the jelly. If you are starting with prepared juice, you can skip to the pectin making steps. You can also stop after making the juice and store it in the refrigerator or freezer if you don’t have time to do the full process all at once. You will want to start with at least 3-4 cups of pomegranate seeds and 3-4 pounds of apple parts to make enough jelly that this is worth your time (and it really is worth your time!).
To make the juice*: For every cup of pomegranate seeds add
- 1/4 cup of water
Put both into a large stock pot, quickly bring almost to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the seeds are soft enough to be easily mashed, about 15-20 minutes. Strain the liquid and seeds through a strainer or food mill. I don’t mind having jelly that isn’t crystal clear, so I go for maximum material by using a food mill to get all the pulp and not just juice. Your leftover solids are now ready for the compost pile! You can stop here and freeze the juice and finish the other steps later, if desired.
*I have seen recommendations to juice pomegranate just like an orange instead of trying to get out the seeds. I have not tried this method, but it seems like it would be a bit messy and leave a lot of material behind.
To make the pectin: For every pound of apple parts (peels & cores) add
- 1 cup prepared juice
- 1/3 cup water
Put the ingredients in a large enough stock pot, quickly bring almost to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the apple parts are soft enough to be mashed. This can be anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending on the type of apples you use. Once the apples are soft enough, mash all the materials well, turn off the heat, and allow to cool in the pot for at least 30 minutes.
Place a muslin cloth in a strainer and pour apple mixture in. Allow to drain. Gather up ends of cloth and twist to get the last bits of juice out. Your apple “gunk” is ready for the compost pile, and if you have a good quality cloth you can wash it and use it again. At this point you have the juice for the jelly, not the jelly, yet! You can refrigerate or freeze the juice and continue with the remaining steps later, if needed.
Once you are ready for the final jelly making process below, put your clean jelly jars (always use more than you think you’ll need) into your water bath pot, cover pot and bring water to boil. You can reduce heat to a simmer while still covered to keep jars hot until you are ready. Put your flat lids into a small pot of water, bring to boil, and reduce to a simmer until ready to use.
Have a wide mouth funnel, cooling rack, ladle, and jar rings all ready to go. Don’t try to prep while your jelly is cooking or you may find yourself with either burned food or contaminated food. Neither is good.
To make the jelly: for every cup of extracted pectin/juice mixture add
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2-3 tsp. lemon juice
You shouldn’t process more than 4 cups of the liquid (before adding lemon juice and sugar) at a time unless you have a larger than usual sized stock pot. It adds too much time to the processing which can cause your pectin to break down, and you can also have the jelly foam up too much where it can overflow the pot.
Place your jelly ingredients into a large stockpot fitted with a thermometer (see Food Canning 101!). Bring your liquid to a boil* without stirring and continue to boil** until the gelling point is reached. This is 10 degrees above the boiling point of water at your elevation. For me at near sea-level, I remove my pot from the heat the moment it hits 222 degrees.
*Once your mixture reaches 5 degrees before your gelling point temperature, remove jars and flat lids from their water baths. Place both jars and lids upside down on a cooling rack to allow any water to drain. Make sure lids are not stacked on each other.
**If your jelly threatens to foam over your pot, wave a wooden spoon through the bubbles to break them up. Do not stir your jelly! Just break up the bubbles.
Work quickly to fill jars and put the lids on them, one at a time. Screw the rings on snugly, and turn the jars upside down. This heats the lids and ensures that you will have a good and clean seal.
Once all jars are filled, flip each one back over carefully as they will still be hot. Set them somewhere out of the way to cool completely. Be patient, don’t try checking if they have set. If you keep messing with the jars they may not set at all! Once the jars are cool you should see that they have gelled. This can actually take a couple of days to get a complete set. Remove rings from lids, wipe down rims and rings with a clean, damp cloth, check that the flat lid is sealed well, and then replace rings. Any jars that didn’t seal, or any partially filled jars, should be placed in the refrigerator for immediate use. Enjoy!