We have three young pomegranate trees in front of our house. Last year they produced 2 pomegranates. This year we picked a dozen from the trees. I (Nori) decided to make pomegranate jelly which I hadn’t done since we were first married (1974). If you are an old hand at making pomegranate jelly, you may want to stop reading here. I doubt I have any words of wisdom for you. In fact, I could probably use some advice, myself. On the other hand, if you need a good laugh, you could keep reading to see how it turned out. You’ve been warned.
I thought I would have plenty of juice, but soon discovered that one large pomegranate was not useable. The seeds were white and grey instead of the normal deep red. Also, I had forgotten how little juice is in those tiny tear-drops of seeds.
After removing the seeds, I juiced them in my old conical sieve with a wooden pestle. (Not recommended because of food safety concerns, but does the job.) I did remember how messy the process is, so I used our sink in the garage. Unfortunately, I failed to remove any and all objects from the sink area which resulted in said objects being splattered with red juice as well as the wall, counter, floor, you get the picture. Speaking of pictures, I didn’t take any at this point since my hands were now also covered with juice that stained my cuticles, nails and finger tips black. Gloves might have been a good idea. If someone notices, I just tell them it’s part of my Halloween get-up.
Next, I strained the juice through 3 layers of damp cheese cloth, as is recommended, which left me with only 2 cups of juice. I checked my recipes. I had a box of powdered pectin, a box of liquid pectin, and my Ball Blue Book circa 1969 (notice the price).
None of them had a recipe for pomegranate jelly. No problem, look on the Internet, you are probably thinking. There wasn’t Internet when I used to make jelly and I did just fine then, thank you very much. (Sorry about the attitude.) The liquid pectin had a recipe for elderberry jelly that called for 3 cups juice and said you could add up to 1/2 cup water to make EXACTLY 3 cups. I also used to make elderberry jelly. Elderberries and pomegranate seeds are similar. I decided to use that recipe.
Not recalling having used liquid pectin before, I checked the Blue Book. Apparently this was what I followed back then, if the tell-tale stains on this page are any indication.
I happened to have a small bowl of purple grapes in the refrigerator. Not to be daunted, I cut the grapes in half and crushed them. I got 1/2 cup juice which I added to the pomegranate juice with 1/2 cup water to make EXACTLY 3 cups of juice. The liquid pectin elderberry recipe called for 7 cups of sugar. Wow! That’s a lot of sugar for 3 cups of juice, I thought. Oh, well. It also called for 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Thankfully I had lemon juice in the freezer that I had picked from our front yard lemon trees and juiced this summer.
I prepared the canning jars, lids, and rings. The recipe said it made 7 half pints of jelly. I had bought pint jars. Rather than make 3 1/2 pint jars, I decided to reuse a couple half pint jars I had in the cupboard. I poured the pomegranate and grape juice in a large pot and added the lemon juice and stirred in the sugar. I followed the pectin directions for cooking the jelly. I followed the Blue Book directions for filling and sealing the jars, because that’s how I did it back then. And here’s the results.
Trust me, it tastes as good as it looks. Now, making jelly by hand is messy and hard work. I suggest finding a friend to share the load. What my experience teaches, however, is that even if you don’t have it all together, things can turn out OK.
Care to share your not-so-perfect homemade creations? After all, even the pros make mistakes.