The irony does not escape me that I write recipes for other people to follow, while I seldom follow anyone else’s. Hopefully no one takes it personally. I don’t always follow my own, either.
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This recipe is a case-in-point example of this. I was looking for a way to modify my own recipe for pomegranate jelly. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I was hoping to increase the amount produced. Basically I was being greedy. Given how much time it can take to extract pomegranate seeds and to make jelly, you can hardly blame me for wanting to get the most out of it.
I’m also a bit picky about how I make my jams and jellies. I have no desire to use commercial pectin, but that extra pectin is essential for allowing the juices of fruits to be able to gel and set-up. The problem is that commercial pectin is often very finicky and typically calls for a large amount of sugar. It promises higher yields, but at the cost of flavor, and that’s all assuming it sets-up properly and doesn’t leave you with syrup instead of jelly. Instead I prefer to use a natural source of pectin that comes from garbage. No, I’m not joking.
As it turns out, apples are very high in pectin, especially the skins and cores. You know, the parts of the apple that often gets thrown away. A simple process is all that’s required to extract that pectin from those scraps and use them to naturally turn your fruits to delicious jams and jellies. You also get a little hint of apple which adds to the overall flavor of your product.
My original pomegranate jelly recipe uses this technique, but again, I was being a little greedy and also wanting to test how much I could stretch the apple pectin to properly set my jelly. The end result came out better than expected. Not only did I get more jelly out of the same amount of materials, I technically had a new flavor. The apple was more noticeable compared to before, but in a very good way. It has a nice buttery, mellow flavor that goes so well with the tangy pomegranate. So instead of editing the old recipe, I figured this deserved its own spotlight of attention!
Some quick notes before you begin:
If you don’t already have a stash of apple peels and cores just waiting to be used, no worries. I keep a container in my freezer that I add to over time until I have enough to make jelly. Any variety of apple will work. Check out these recipes here that use apples to help get you going on your apple peel and core collection!
You can start with either whole pomegranate arils or juice from the store. Either way will produce a great product. If you are starting with whole fruit you will need to extract the juice first. I have some options for how to do this explained in the recipe.
You can make this jelly in stages in order to make the process more time friendly. The apple pectin can be made and frozen, as well as the pomegranate juice, then the two can be brought together whenever you are ready to make the jelly.
Don’t be tempted to alter the quantities of the ingredients. I already use a reduced amount of sugar in my preserves, but sugar is also needed to help in creating the proper gel so too little will prevent it from setting properly. Also, the amount of juice to apple pectin is right at the edge of setting well. Changing the ratio will either cause it to be too firm or too loose.
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.
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!
Pomegranate-Apple Jelly (No Pectin Added) Recipe
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To make the apple pectin:
You will want to start with at least 2 pounds of apple cores and peels, but you can use more as desired. For each pound of apple parts you will need 2 cups of water. Put the peels/cores and water into a large pot, cover and bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Continue to cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the apple parts are soft. Mash with a potato masher and then simmer another 10 minutes. Set the pot aside and allow to cool.
Once the contents are cool, strain out the solids through a colander, squeezing out as much liquid as you can. Then allow the liquid to be strained through a tea towel or muslin cloth (not cheese cloth, that’s too porous) held in a strainer. You could gather the cloth at the corners and suspend it over a bowl or pot to help speed up the process. This part takes time, but it is hands off while you wait. I will admit that I squeeze the cloth to get out as much juice as possible, but do know that this can lead to a cloudier liquid for your jelly later on.
To make the pomegranate juice:
If you are using commercially made juice, you don’t need to do anything more. If you are starting with whole fruits, there are a variety of ways you can extract the juice from the arils. You will want to start with no less than 2 cups of arils to get enough juice for jelly. For best results, allow any solids to settle out of the juice by putting the juice in a tall pitcher or bottle and let set for several hours in the refrigerator. Pour off the liquid above to use for your jelly.
Electric food mill: one of my recent purchases was a food mill attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. It was a wonderfully easy way to extract quality juice. While a hand-operated food mill will work, it is more tedious and messy if the fruits aren’t cooked first. The food mill attachment is by far my preferred method for getting juice from things like pomegranates and blackberries. Allow the solids to settle as described in the paragraph above.
Heat extraction: for every cup of pomegranate arils you will need 1/4 cup of water. You will want to start with at least two cups of pomegranates. Place the ingredients in a pot, cover and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the pomegranate arils are soft enough to be mashed. Use a food mill to strain the seeds from the pulp and allow the solids to settle as described above.
Juicer: if you have a juicing machine you can use that, however the blades of the juicer will scrape the seeds and allow some of that material to get into the juice. It will affect the flavor, so it will be best to allow the solids to settle to the bottom as described at the beginning of this section.
Blender: I have not personally tried this process, but my mom has. Place the arils in a blender and process until the arils have turned into a pulp. Strain the juice through a strainer to remove the solids. The same problem of the blades scraping the seeds will occur as with a juicer, so be sure to allow any solids to settle as described at the beginning of this section.
To make the jelly:
For every 1 cup of the apple pectin liquid you will need:
- 3/4 cup pomegranate juice
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Combine all your ingredients together and measure how much you have. You will want to work with no more than 4 to 6 cups of the jelly liquid at a time to avoid excess processing times and dangerous boiling over of liquid.
Put the liquid into a large stock pot fitted with a thermometer. Bring the contents to a boil, uncovered, and continue to cook until the temperature of the jelly reaches 10 degrees Fahrenheit above the boiling temperature of water at your elevation. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the pot from the heat and immediately begin filling your prepared jelly jars. The USDA recommends processing your jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
Allow the jars to cool somewhere where they won’t be disturbed. It may take a day or two (or sometimes more) for the pectin to set. Do not shake the jars or the pectin may not set at all. Be patient! The jelly will be shelf stable, but once opened should be refrigerated. Enjoy!
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