Monday, November 11, 2013

Honeysuckle Pomegranate Jelly

Oh, pomegranate, how do I love thee...but I hate your damn seeds! I really fell in love with pomegranate at a work picnic. We were all asked to bring something from our family/ethnicity. One of my colleagues had made wonderful flatbread and served it with barely pulled-apart hunks of pomegranate drizzled with honey. It was gorgeous and exotic but had so many seeds that I found unpleasant to chew. But, I love the flavor of the juice, so when I saw these two pomegranates, literally jumping off the shelf to get into my cart, I thought, it's jelly time! You know I also have massive tea fetish, particularly when it comes to jam and jelly. I also knew I didn't have enough fruit to make much jelly, so I would need some extra liquid.
So, I made a simple syrup infused with the tea first. I put 1 1/2 cups each of sugar and filtered water, along with five Republic of Tea White Honeysuckle tea bags. I really wanted to go with a white tea so as to not overpower the pomegranate or dilute the beautiful ruby color. When the syrup had gotten, well, syrup-y, and the tea flavor was strong enough, I strained it all into a bowl. Then I dumped the pomegranate and 3T of water into the pot to simmer and break down. I did use the side of my spoon to help burst some of the seeds, but don't go too nuts. If you pulverize the seeds, your juice may be bitter. Once the fruit was broken down, I gently ran it through a chinois (any fine strainer or cheesecloth will do).
When I had gotten all the juice extracted that I could, I put the syrup, juice, lemon juice, vanilla and allspice back in the pot to heat up. When it came to a boil, I added the pectin and let it boil for a minute. I did a crappy job on my frozen saucer test, however, so I'm suggesting you all add more pectin than I did (I adjusted the recipe below for you). I'm always shy with the pectin, and then I have very, um, juicy jelly. Sigh. I will learn one of these days.

While I was working on my jelly, I found a standard recipe for pumpkin bread and made it with some of last week's fresh pumpkin puree and added in some extra spices to compensate.
I was kicking myself for not having nuts. Sigh. However, I'm a big fan of brushing the crust with melted butter both once while it's baking and then again when you take it out of the oven so some pretty turbinado sugar sprinkled on will stick. Especially when you have a nutty crust (nuttier than me), this makes for a nice, caramelized crunch on top.

Voila! Honeysuckle Pomegranate Jelly and Pumpkin bread. You better believe I took one of these muffins and scoured the jelly stuck to the bottom of the pot. The pumpkin and pomegranate were particularly fabulous together.

Honeysuckle Pomegranate Jelly

  • 2 pomegranates
  • 1 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 Republic of Tea White Tea Honeysuckle (or another white tea that smells nice with the pomegranate)
  • 3 T bottled lemon juice
  • splash vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 2 T plus 1 tsp pectin
Separate the pomegranate seeds from the rind. Make sure to pick out any overripe seeds.

In your jelly pot or pan, combine the water, the sugar, and the tea bags. Cook over a medium heat until you're satisfied with the strength of the tea flavor and the syrup reduces down a bit. Remove tea bags and add in the pomegranate seeds. Let simmer at low heat for about 15 minutes or so. I mashed on the pomegranates with a fork at this point to burst more of them. Be gentle.

Pour mix through a chinois or other fine strainer. Squeeze gently to extract as much juice as possible without pulverizing the seeds. Return juice to the pot, bring to a  boil, and add in lemon juice, vanilla, and allspice. Add pectin. Stir well and let boil for a minute.

When the liquid gels within 15 seconds of being smudged on a cold saucer, you're ready to jar. Ladle the jelly into sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.

This made one half pint and three quarter pints for me.