There are few things from the kitchen as pretty as a perfectly set jar of sparkling, jewel-toned jelly. However, those “less attractive” jars of jam deserve some love, too.
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One of my issues with making jelly is that it involves extracting only the juice of the fruit being used and not any of the pulp. This wastes a lot of fruit material and takes quite a while to strain out the liquid. Even though we use that pulp in our compost for our garden, I still have a hard time with seeing so much potential food not being consumed. I do still love those picture-perfect jellies, but more often than not I will opt for making jam, instead.
I will admit, though, that some fruits are easier to do this with than others. Like blackberries, another fruit that I love to make jam from, pomegranates have a lot of seeds. Lots and lots and lots of seeds. Pomegranate seeds are not fun to eat and they don’t taste good. How rude.
And let’s face it, getting all those plump arils out of a pomegranate is not the easiest task. Ask my family. Actually, please don’t. I don’t want to hear their complaining any more than I already do. So it really adds incentive to get out as much out of the process as possible to make it all worthwhile. And really, this jam is very worthwhile. Funny, my family doesn’t complain about the part where they get to eat the jam. Hmmmm….
The end result is a preserve that has that delightful pomegranate taste like pomegranate jelly has, but in a fruit butter-like spread. It’s technically a jam because the pulp is not intentionally mashed like in apple or pear butter, but the pulp has a finer texture so it cooks up in much the same way. The robust texture makes it perfect for a classic pb&j sandwich as much as a topping for a buttered slice of toast!
Some quick notes before you begin:
I have created a post that gives all the information needed for those of you that may be brand new to making jams and jellies. It also has tips for those of you who may have struggled getting good results in the past. Check that post out here!
If you are not familiar with canning materials and safety, please read my post on canning here. This gives you an introduction into helpful accessories and resources to make the process easier and safer.
The process for getting the pulp is the same as what I use for making pomegranate jelly (and a second recipe is coming soon!). The difference is that for the jelly, the juice is later extracted from the solids whereas here, everything but the seeds is used.
Pomegranates don’t have a lot of pectin and so the pulp will not gel in the same way as other high pectin fruits. No worries, because this recipe uses the cook-down method to get to the thickness desired. It’s actually easier and less fussy, anyway, and you can even start and stop if you aren’t able to complete the process all at once.
The best type of pot to use for this will be one with a wide base and shorter sides. This will help increase the rate of evaporation of the water from the pomegranate and reduce the time needed to cook it down.
There is a real danger of having the solids settle to the bottom of the pot and get scorched, so this is not a recipe you can walk away from. Regular stirring and using a lower heat will be important to get the results you want.
Since you will be using the cook-down method, you won’t be limited by how much jam you can process at a time like you would be if you were using higher pectin fruits. However, the bigger the batch you make, the longer it will take to thicken and the more risk there is in having the pulp get scorched.
Don’t skip the lemon juice. Not only does it really help to enhance the flavor of your jam, it also provides the needed acidity to prevent the growth of dangerous microorganisms.
Depending on your climate, you could grow your own pomegranates for an abundant supply of this delicious and healthy fruit. The tree is beautiful, too!
Pomegranate Jam Recipe
To extract the pulp:
For every 1 cup of pomegranate arils, you will need 1/4 cup water. You will want to start with at least three to four cups of the pomegranate arils to get a useful amount, but you can also start with larger quantities. Add both pomegranate and water to a large stock pot. Cover the pot, bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Continue to simmer until the arils are soft and can be mashed with a potato masher. Strain the material through a food mill to remove the seeds (these can go into compost). The extracted pulp can be kept in the refrigerator or freezer if you don’t have time to finish the jam.
To make the jam:
For every cup of extracted pulp you will need:
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar (use more for tart fruit, less for sweeter fruit)
- 1 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
Put the fruit pulp, sugar, and lemon juice in a tall pot. Bring the contents to a boil, then reduce heat as needed to prevent boiling over and splattering. Stir regularly using a flat wooden paddle to push material off the bottom of the pot to prevent settling and scorching of the solids.
You will continue to cook the pomegranate mixture until it has thickened up to the point that it can be mounded on a spoon. When a spoonful is placed on a cool plate it won’t flatten out much or have a lot of liquid pooling. Keep in mind that it will thicken more as it cools. You can also have a taste (careful, it will be hot!) to see if you would like to add more sugar or lemon juice for flavor.
If you realize that you’ve cooked it down too far, simply add a little water to thin it back down. You can even do this after they have been stored in the jars. Just empty the contents into a pot or microwave safe bowl, add a little water, heat just enough to blend and return to the jar. Just be sure to store that jar in the refrigerator for use.
Once the mixture reaches your desired consistency, carefully ladle it into prepared half-pint jars and cover with clean lids. I will flip each jar over after I cover it to heat all surfaces and air spaces, then flip them back over once all the jars are filled. It is also recommended that the jars be processed in a water bath to ensure proper sealing for long-term storage safety. Now you can enjoy that delightful pomegranate flavor all year!