I lived for many years in Arizona, and much of my family lives there still. One special treat I can remember fondly from my youth is the pomegranate syrup and jelly that frequently starred in our meals, whether it was french toast, pancakes, biscuits or toasted bread.
Pomegranates aren’t exactly known as a Gulf Coast produce. They are incredibly expensive when purchased commercially too. (Nearly $2 each!) Their jewel-like interiors possess juice so flavorful that I can’t imagine anything tastier, despite the seeds.
When family came from Arizona, they brought us a half case of the wonderful treasures specifically to make jelly with. My daughter’s juicer was brought into play rather than my steam juicer, and after the fruit were removed from their skins and membranes, it looked very like a vast pot of rubies…and was probably just as valuable!
We put these tasty little jewels through the juicer, preparing it for the next step in the jelly-making process.
The juice was then placed in a container and refrigerated overnight to allow the bits of seeds, membrane, etc. to settle to the bottom, creating incredibly clear and vividly colored juice…perfect for making jelly! We processed the jelly, cooking small batches with the following recipe:
5 c. juice
7 c. sugar
1 pkg. powdered pectin
Place the juice and pectin in a heavy bottomed pot. Stirring continuously, bring to a boil over medium high heat and boil for EXACTLY* 3 minutes. Add sugar all at once, stirring into juice mixture. Stirring continuously, return to a boil and boil EXACTLY* 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Fill half pint jars to within 1/4″ of top, clean rims and place 2 part lids on jelly jars. Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes (timed after water returns to a boil) remove jars and cool in a draft-free location.
*I was told by a very reliable source that over-boiling the jell results in some very peculiar textures, and to be exact with the timing. Wear a watch with a second hand!
The jelly had the perfect texture and flavor, as well as was incredibly clear and vividly colored. Oh do I wish for the pomegranate shrubs of my youth again!
Just for the record, pomegranates can be small trees or large shrubs. They make a wonderful windbreak and require little care. In the desert Southwest, they do require some irrigation, but very little compared to most fruiting trees/shrubs. I never recall anyone in our family doing anything for these shrubs, so apparently pests and diseases are not a major problem either.
Homemade jellies, jams and preserves are also one of the gifts from your kitchen that you can give that is usually highly appreciated, as few commercial preparations come even close to mimicking the wonderful fruity flavor you can create in your own kitchen.