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I need to explain how it came about that I had so many pomegranates at home I had to, or chose to, make a preserve.
I’m a pomegranate fiend. It is an addiction, obsession, guilty secret – call it whatever, I can eat pomegranates for England and any other country I might call home. But I belong to the shameful minority of spitters: eat the juicy arils and spit out the white pips. But shameful only because spitting is not a decorous activity; there are no proven values in eating the seeds which are mostly indigestible.
Due to the spitting technique eating pomegranates is more an activity than a meal: about 200kCal over two hours isn’t exactly fast food is it? And of course the fruit is a health supremo, with its Vitamin C and antioxidants content.
I’m fussy though. Not just any pom will do; over the years I’ve researched the varieties and the countries of origin to determine what is the best available in my neck of wood (hint: the cheapest and the skankiest looking OR the mega large and mega expensive). But still there are misses – like the time The Weather Man proudly brought a basket of poms bought in the local market for a pound.
They were not very good. And thus we finally get to the jelly stage in the story.
The one problem is releasing the seeds but there are videos galore; plus my explanation hopefully helps. The other problem is that we end up with potent stuff: less sugar and it won’t set; less cooking down and it will remain runny. So it needs to be used sparingly; rather than slathering over toast, I’d put on a thin dab. Scone and cream will be overwhelmed by the pom jelly – so the best company for it is a plain cracker, unsweetened oats and Greek yoghurt.
And it’s amazing drizzled over a plain rice cake spread with cream cheese.
pomegranate jellyServings: one 1lb jarTime: a couple of hours
- 6 pomegranates
- 300-350g (10oz.) jam sugar (about the same in weight as the juice)
- juice from ½ lemon
The best method to release the seeds from a pomegranate is to cut the fruit horizontally in half; hold each half cut side down over a large bowl and whack it with a wooden spoon. The seeds – technically they are called arils – will just pop out. Do the same with all the halves.
To get rid of bits of pith from amongst the arils, cover them with cold water in the bowl; the pith and bits of skin will float to the surface and can be easily fished out with a slotted spoon.
Transfer the arils to a large non-reactive pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes; the seeds will turn really ugly dull purple.
Take the pan off the heat and pass the seeds through a food mill with the finest mesh. If you haven’t got a food mill, push them through a sieve with a wooden spoon (but that will be quite an effort).
Pass the pulp through cheesecloth lined sieve back to the pan; make sure you weigh the juice. Add the same amount of sugar, the lemon juice and bring it to a gentle simmer.
Let it cook for about 30-40 minutes until the temperature reaches 105C – or a blob dropped onto an ice cold plate sets to jam/jelly consistency.
While the jelly cooks, wash a jam sized 1lb jar, kilner or lidded, in hot water. Place them in an oven heated up to 120C and immediately switched off.
When the jelly is ready leave it to slightly cool down, about 10 minutes, and then carefully fill the jar. Close it tightly and leave for at least a few days to mature before eating.