First come the strawberries, then the blueberries and peaches. And apples. Lots of apples. Then, about the time we think we’re done with canning season, pomegranates go on sale. We then scramble for a pomegranate jelly recipe before the ruby fruits turn old and leathery.
Pomegranates originated in Iran and made their way through the Mediterranean, becoming a symbol of Spain when folklore confused the origin with the city of Grenada. Spanish conquistadors brought them to the United States, where they currently flourish in hot, dry areas such as Southern California, Arizona, and Southern Nevada. Within the Northern Hemisphere, pomegranates are in season between September and February.
Download this FREE guide to get preserving tips and tricks from the experts at Countryside Network.
YES! I want this FREE Preserving Guide »
Their jewel-toned, finger-staining juice beckons with promises of nutritional value while their hard kernels and high prices warn you to indulge just a little. But how can you preserve pomegranates for the winter in a stunning and delicious way? Make pomegranate jelly. The homemade goodness complements some other classic holiday recipes such as a simple turkey brine, non-alcoholic eggnog, and healthy sweet potato recipes.
Though several simple recipes exist online and in canning books, I knew I found the right pomegranate jelly recipe on Simply Recipes when it suggested adding lemon juice to help preserve the beautiful color and tangy flavor. Light shines through mason jars, illuminating cranberry-toned jelly and promising a satisfying treat atop hot buttermilk biscuits or artisan bread.
Basic Pomegranate Jelly Recipe
- 4 cups pomegranate juice (about 7 ripe pomegranates)
- ¼ cup lemon juice (3-4 small lemons)
- 1 box powdered pectin or 6 Tbsp Ball bulk pectin
- 5 cups white sugar
If you wish to save time or want to make jelly when pomegranates are out of season, you can buy prepared juice. Just be sure it’s 100% pomegranate juice because each fruit requires a certain amount of pectin and sugar to allow a good gel.
Old-fashioned juice presses can reduce time but can result in a bitter flavor because the rind and membrane are also squeezed or ground. To get the sweetest, purest juice, cut open the pomegranate and remove the seeds.
With a sharp knife, carefully slice off last few inches at the top and bottom of the fruit, exposing the seeds. Then cut down the length of the rind, just above each dividing membrane, making five or six cuts. Hold the fruit over a bowl and gently twist and pull to break it apart. Now break each individual section, plucking the seeds out of the membranes. Once you have a bowl full of ruby-red seeds, cover them with cold water and gently swish around. The last small pieces of membrane will float to the top so you can scoop them off. Drain the seeds in a colander.
Within a blender or a food processor, pulse the seeds for just a few seconds to release the juice. Place a colander in a bowl then line the colander with a piece of cheesecloth. This will stain your cloth, so use one that you don’t mind getting a little brown. Let the juice drip through to collect in the bowl. When most of the juice has strained through, wrap the seeds and pulp up in the cheesecloth and gently squeeze out the remaining moisture.
Let the juice sit in a mason jar for a few minutes. Cloudy sediment will soon sink to the bottom. This portion is okay to use but it will result in a cloudier jelly. Save this for a tasty juice drink. Pour off the clearest juice and measure out four cups.
Optional step: If you like a jelly with a little more zing, remove the stem, seeds, and veins from a ripe chili pepper such as a red jalapeno. Pulse the pepper in the blender with the four cups of pomegranate juice. Proceed to make the jelly as directed, pouring the pepper-rich juice into the saucepan. This will not affect the gel nor the safety and will make a unique concoction that is delightful with cream cheese or brie.
If you’re canning the jelly, prepare six or seven clean eight-ounce mason jars by simmering them in hot water. This is easiest to do within your water bath canner, simultaneously while you prepare your jelly. Set the jars in the canning pot and fill with water until the jars are filled and covered. Put the lid on the pot, set it on the stove, and heat on high just until the water steams and little bubbles stick to the outsides of the jars. There is no need to boil the jars. Be sure the jars are scalded and ready to go when the jelly is ready to bottle up. To save space and ensure safe canning, keep the jars within the hot water until they are ready to fill.
Prepare canning lids by placing them plastic-side-up in a shallow saucepan. Cover with water. Heat on medium to low until they simmer. Do not boil.
If you are making the pomegranate jelly recipe for immediate consumption and do not wish to seal it, cook as directed. Once the jelly is done, pour into clean heat-proof containers and refrigerate. Unsealed jelly can last several weeks in the refrigerator.
Combine the pomegranate juice, the lemon juice, and the pectin in a six-quart saucepan. Measure out exactly five cups of sugar and keep it ready in a bowl on the side. Simmer the juice on high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scalding, until it reaches a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Slowly add the sugar, stirring to mix well. Continue stirring constantly until the mixture again reaches a full rolling boil. Start a timer; stir and boil for exactly two minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for a minute. Scoop off foam.
Remove mason jars from the hot water. Pour out any residual water but do not worry about drying the jars. Immediately fill the jars to within one-half inch of the top. Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe the rims, ensuring that absolutely no food remains on surfaces which will contact the lid’s sealing compound. Carefully remove lids from the hot water and place them, compound-side-down, on the jars. Secure with rings and twist until fingertip-tight.
Place the mason jars back in the canning pot, lowering the rack carefully. Be sure the water covers the tops of the jars by at least an inch. Place the lid back on the pot and increase heat to high. Once the water reaches a full rolling boil, set a timer for the appropriate processing time for your elevation. (Link: rules for safe water bath canning.)
Once the timer has rung, turn off the heat and remove the lid from the pan. Allow jars to cool for at least five minutes before carefully removing them from the pot. Without tilting the jars, set them on a towel in an area sheltered from drafts. Do not worry about wiping water away; it will soon evaporate. Allow to cool to room temperature, preferably overnight, before labeling the jars and putting them away.
How to Use this Pomegranate Jelly Recipe
Sweet and tangy, pomegranate jelly can accompany breads, biscuits, and pancakes as well as other fruit spreads. It can also work as an ingredient in more complex foods.
Smoky Pomegranate Barbeque Sauce: In a bowl, mix a half-cup of ketchup and a half-cup pomegranate jelly. Add a quarter-teaspoon liquid smoke, a half-teaspoon garlic salt, a half-teaspoon Dijon mustard, and a tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Mix well and adjust ingredients to taste.
Pomegranate Pepper Turkey Glaze: Mix one cup pomegranate jelly with one teaspoon sambal oleak. If you cannot find sambal, use one teaspoon hot pepper sauce such as Sriracha or Tabasco. Add one tablespoon soy sauce. Brush onto the crisp skin of a cooked turkey prior to serving. Do not cook more than a few minutes with the glaze on the turkey because the sugars will burn.
Pomegranate-Orange Balsamic Dressing: Mix one-half cup pomegranate jelly with one-quarter cup balsamic vinegar. Add two tablespoons freshly crushed pomegranates, a teaspoon orange juice concentrate, and a teaspoon of freshly minced basil. Use on a salad made with bitter greens such as a mesclun mix, apples, pecans, crumbled goat cheese, and fresh pomegranate seeds.