& Pomegranate Jelly From Homemade Pectin
Here is the easiest Apple Butter recipe ever. It’s a flavorful spread that’s a multi-generational comfort food around my house during the holidays– apple harvesting season. In the second part of this post, I’ll also show you how to use homemade pectin to turn pomegranate fruit juice into a jelly that can last for months. Whether you’re aiming for homemade gifts or simply craving all the flavors of the fall season, these recipes are the answer. Join me as we elevate our skills and expand our culinary prepping skills.
Meat of a dozen or so apples (peeled, cored, and chopped)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups water
Optional: 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Peel, core, and chop the apples into small pieces. The variety of apples you use can influence the flavor of your apple butter. I like to use a mix of apples to get a complex flavor. If you have a tree or your area is known for a particular variety, I think you can make an apple butter subtly unique to your area.
Place the chopped apples in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Some peels are okay.
Add granulated and brown sugar, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt to the pot. I have given you the general spice breakdown in the ingredients. I have dabbled with this over the years and now use a powdered blend of generic mulling spices, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice and cook it all with three cinnamon sticks. My family likes it spicier, so I use two tablespoons of powdered spices.
Add lemon juice and the vanilla extract.
Add water and stir the ingredients well.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
Once it boils, reduce the heat to an evaporative simmer and let the mixture simmer. I leave the lid on for the first hour. You will want to keep it low enough so it doesn’t sputter out of the pot. Stir it every 15-30 minutes. Cook for at least 4 hours, then remove the cinnamon sticks and use an immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a blender to puree until smooth. Return the blended mix to the pot and simmer for an additional time.
Allow the mixture to cook and thicken. It will pass through an apple sauce phase and then develop a rich brown color. This process can take several hours. I find that it will take at least 4-6 hours. Be patient and continue stirring to prevent burning or crusting on the top. To check the consistency, it should stick nicely to the spoon once you stir it.
Allow the apple butter to cool to room temperature. Transfer it to clean, sterilized jars with tight-fitting lids. Refrigerate the apple butter if you plan to use it within a few weeks. If you want to store it for a more extended period, consider water bath canning following proper canning procedures. This homemade apple butter is versatile and can be spread on toast, used as a topping for pancakes or waffles, or incorporated into various recipes. I like to use it on meats on the barbecue or as a base for barbecue sauces.
5 cups granulated sugar
Juice from a dozen large pomegranates (about 4-5 cups)
Optional: 2-4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses for extra flavor (adjust to taste)
¼ cup of homemade apple pectin per cup of juice used
1/4 cup lemon juice
Extract Pomegranate Juice: Cut the pomegranates in half and extract the juice using a juicer or pressing the seeds to release the juice. Strain the juice to remove any pulp or seeds, and measure about 4-5 cups of pomegranate juice. Each large pomegranate has about ½ cup of juice in it. If you have a pomegranate tree, obtaining the number of pomegranates needed is easy. Getting it all extracted is the hard part. If you don’t want to go through the effort, you can always use store-bought 100% pure pomegranate juice. Here, I will juice four pomegranates and use two cups of store-bought juice to give me four full cups.
Combine Ingredients: In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the pomegranate juice, granulated sugar, and lemon juice. Lemon juice lowers the pH of the jam mixture and neutralizes the negative charges on the pectin strands, allowing them to move together into a network to “set” the jam. The lemon flavor will not come through, but it will help the pectin do its thing, keep your jelly color bright, and enhance the flavors. Optionally, add pomegranate molasses for an extra layer of flavor. Stir the mixture over medium heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Use a gentle heat to avoid scorching the mixture. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, scorching, or boiling over. When the mixture reaches a rolling boil, add the homemade apple pectin, stirring continuously to ensure even distribution. Bring the mix back to a gentle boil, like a bubbling simmer, and cook for up to 30 minutes.
Pomegranates are low in pectin. Strawberries are, too, so I suggest following a strawberry jelly recipe if you do not use homemade pectin, as I am using here. We will add 1/4 cup of homemade apple pectin for each 1 cup of fruit juice. Remember, we also added 1/4 cup of lemon juice at the start of this process. We don’t want it to add additional water to our mix. The homemade pectin will add additional water, so we have to bring it to a boil, then reduce the mix and let the pectin work.
Continue boiling the mixture until it reaches the setting point. This can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Place a spoonful of the mix on a chilled plate to test the setting point. If it wrinkles and holds its shape when pushed with a finger, it’s ready. This is where I had to add more pectin and continue a gentle boil. Making homemade pectin will leave you with different levels of pectin depending upon how efficient your process was and how much pectin was in the fruit, to begin with. A jelly is harder to get to set properly than a jam, so you may want to use homemade pectin for jams.
Fill Jars: Remove the pot from the heat once the jelly reaches the desired consistency. Pour the hot jelly into the sterilized and warmed jelly jars, leaving about 1/4-inch headspace. Process the jars in a water bath canner for 5-10 minutes. Pomegranate jelly made with proper canning techniques and sealed jars can last for up to a year or even longer. Refrigerate after opening.
There you have it. If you make these two recipes plus the two recipes from our previous post (Sweet Habenero Jelly & Homemade Pectin), you will have a basic understanding of making jelly with store-bought pectin, homemade pectin, apple butter, jelly from juice, and water bath canning. Those skills can crossover into many other cooking areas, and you can use these skills as a basis for creating a thousand different recipes made from thousands of other ingredients. How about apple and pumpkin butter, a dragon fruit juice jelly, a berry preserve, or jalapeno lime jelly? The ingredients may change. The quantities may vary slightly, but these four recipes will provide you with a basic understanding of how to create your own personal favorite family recipe. Most importantly, if you find yourself in possession of a couple of bushels of apples, you won’t have to fret and watch them rot on the counter. You can put them to use and enjoy rich flavorful foods and nutrition throughout the year. Remember, cooking is the key to self-sufficiency, and self-sufficiency is the key to prepping.
As always, stay safe out there.