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Corning, or Pickling, a Beef Brisket All By Myself - Really, It's Not Hard!

 Flat cut beef brisket before corning
Flat cut beef brisket before corning

 

This year I am actually corning, or pickling, my own beef before Saint Patrick's Day. It takes 6 to 10 days for a normal sized cut. I opted for flat cut corned beef brisket from Costco at $6.99 a pound. The flat cut is a much leaner cut than the point cut. However it still has a thin layer of fat on the bottom. This cut is often available in supermarkets and has a nice square shape.

Like most people I like to save money. I could have bought point cut at a local butcher shop for about $4.00 per pound, but that cut has more fat than I prefer. If I wanted to pickle several pieces at once to share with others, or freeze, I could have bought a whole beef brisket. Untrimmed briskets weigh 8-20 pounds and I would end up with both a flat cut and a point cut for about $3.50 a pound. Untrimmed briskets are more reasonably priced, but you would need a lot of room in your refrigerator, and there will be about 4 pounds of wasted fat to trim away. If you find a deal on a good sized beef top or bottom round, those cuts make a nice lean "corned" beef and may be more reasonably priced before Saint Patrick's Day.

Corning beef is like making pickles, you get to choose what ingredients you like. I looked at several recipes and subtracted what I did not like. Feel free to adjust my recipe to your liking.

 

Ingredients

 

Corned Beef Spices
Corned Beef Spices

 

  • 3/4 cup table salt or pickling salt
    Curing salt - Julia Child did not use this
    Curing salt - Julia Child did not use
  • 2 teaspoons curing salt (6.25% Sodium nitrite) optional, purchase from sausage shop or online. Do not add additional curing salt. Note: Julia Child did not use this ingredient.
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, mix of yellow and black
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
  • 1  tablespoon whole juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon ground garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 4 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 5 slices fresh ginger
  • 3 quarts water
  • 2 pounds ice (1 qt frozen)
  • 1 (4 to 6 pound) beef brisket, trimmed

 

Directions

 

Add salts to 1 quatr water
Add salts to 1 quart water

Place 1 quart water into a stockpot along with salts. Warm over high heat until the salts have dissolved. Remove brine from the heat and add the ice. Add your chosen spices and 2 additional quarts cold water.

Brine, Spices, and Ice
Brine, Spices, and Ice

Stir until the ice has melted. Brine should be less than 45 degrees F before adding beef. Once brine has cooled, place the brisket in a food safe plastic bag and add the brine with spices. I used a turkey roasting bag placed in a large bowl (like brining a turkey). Seal bag and make sure the brine is surrounding the brisket on all sides.

Brisket in a food safe plastic bag with brine
Brisket in a food safe plastic bag with brine

Place in the refrigerator for 6 to 10 days (6 days is plenty for a normal flat cut, an extra thick cut of beef round may take 10 days). Check daily to make sure the beef is completely submerged and stir the brine a little.

After 6 to 10 days rinse beef in cool water and cook brisket as desired.

 

Cooking corned beef brisket

For traditional corned beef brisket, one may make a spice bag from a square of muslin and tie with cooking string. To the spice bag add one bay leaf, ten peppercorns, a teaspoon yellow mustard seeds, a heaping teaspoon allspice berries, two or three whole cloves, and some caraway seeds. Cover beef with water by 1-inch. Add your spice bag.  Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Add onion, carrot, potatoes, and celery, cook about 15 minutes and add cabbage wedges. Cook all until fork tender.  Remove from the pot and thinly slice beef across the grain.

 

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Serving Suggestions

You may like to serve with a grainy mustard with your brisket. Click on this link to find my directions for making a fine New Yorke style mustard to complement your beef.

 

More Information

The Test Kitchen has a program on making your own corned beef from scratch that you might also find helpful.

 

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The Jam Scientist

The flavor of freshly baked gingerbread in a jar - Easy Apple Gingerbread Spice Jelly

Gingerbread Spice Jelly made with rich spices and molasses - the flavor of freshly baked gingerbread.
Gingerbread Spice Jelly made with rich spices and molasses - the flavor of freshly baked gingerbread.

It is easy to make, can be done in less than an hour, and has the flavor of freshly baked gingerbread! This recipe turned out sooo good I thought twice about releasing it on the internet. Maybe I should keep this recipe for myself. In the end I decided to share. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as my family does.

Gingerbread is a wonderful seasonal treat; even Starbucks releases a limited edition Gingerbread Latte.  Most gingerbread flavored products are, like gingerbread, delicious.  But some are.... well...sad. 

I ran into a jelly made with gingerbread flavored tisane. It sounded intriguing, but I was a little shocked by the thought of making a jelly with just sugared and flavored water. I thought I could do better. After all, the ingredients and spices in gingerbread are no secret, and using the full gallery of gingerbread spices and molasses in an apple jelly foundation should give a nice rich taste. I thought the only trick would be getting the spice amounts correct.

There was another problem though. I also needed to tackle how to use apples juice as the fruit base. Buying apple juice by the jug is notoriously difficult to work with because pectin destroying enzymes are added during the juice manufacturing process, and those enzymes would also inactivate the boxed pectin I would add to make the jelly. I needed this process to be easy enough for beginners. Extracting clear juice from fresh apples is difficult. Unprocessed apple juice is not available in many areas, so that wouldn't work. I wondered if using apple juice from frozen concentrate might work.  I was absolutely thrilled to find that juice made from frozen concentrate jells easily!!! After some experimentation I believe I got this new recipe spot-on. It is easy to make, can be done in less than an hour, and has the full fledged flavor of gingerbread!

First, I will be sharing just the recipe for making the jelly.  If you need information about the basic canning process please click here for Canning Instructions from Virginia Tech.

If you would like to print this recipe without all the pictures please click Download Apple Gingerbread Spice Jelly Recipe

 

Golden acorn logo TM 

Apple Gingerbread Spice Jelly

 Author: A Best Little Jam House Exclusive

Recipe type:

Jelly

 

Serves:

10, 8-oz jars or half- pints

Prep time: 

10 minutes

 

Headspace:

1/4 inch

Cook time: 

20 minutes

 

Processing:

10 minutes

Total time: 

40 minutes

     

 

 

made with rich spices and molasses

 

Ingredients:

16 ounce frozen concentrated apple juice (the type that calls for addition of 3 cans water)

1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

3/4 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 Tablespoons molasses (unsulfured)  

2 Tablespoons lemon juice (1 small lemon)

 2 packages (1 3/4 ounces each pack) fruit pectin

8 cups sugar 

 

Instructions:

  1. Sterilize jars and prepare lids per manufacture's instruction.
  2. Add apple juice and 2 1/2 cans (not 3 cans) water into a wide-bottomed pan, or a preserving kettle. Add spices, molasses, lemon juice, and dry pectin. Stir frequently while bring contents to a boil.
  3. Add sugar all at once and stir well.
    Add sugar all at once
    Add sugar all at once
    Bring contents to a full rolling boil.
    Boil for one minute
    Boil for one minute
    Boil for one minute and check the set. When jelly mixture sheets from a spoon. Remove from heat; skim off foam after cooling one minute.
  4. Ladle hot jelly mixture immediately into hot,
    1/4 inch headspace
    ¼ inch headspace
    sterile jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; add two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
  5. Jelly will last at least one year.

Note: Processing time given is for 1000 foot elevation and below. If you are working at a higher elevation click here for information about needed time adjustments.

I suggest you label your jam jars. One may simply write on the lid, or you may download my personal Christmas labels by clicking Download Gingerbread Spice Jelly Christmas Label. My labels have a larger label for the lid and a smaller label for the front of jar. One just needs to write in the canning date, cut out, and glue the label on the jar.

 

gingerbread Spice Jelly Label

 

The Professor's Rating

The Professor gave it 5 stars. " This makes my mouth happy.... This is good! We could sell this!... Are you sure you want to put this recipe on the web? I don't know if I remember what gingerbread tastes like... This is as good as the blueberry grape jelly" (one of his favorites).

 

Gingerbread spice jelly on hot biscuits
Gingerbread spice jelly on hot biscuits

 

Apple Gingerbread Spice Jelly Demystified

How do I know this recipe is safe? pH and Heat

pH  - To be safe from botulism bacteria growth and its food poisoning toxins, the pH of canned goods must be below 4.6 (one wants to stay below pH 4.4. to be on the safe side). The pH of apple juice ranges from 3.35 to 4.0. We also added Lime juice with pH of 2.0 - 2.35. Testing the pH of this jelly it was pH 3.1 - well within the safety zone. However, low pH does not affect yeasts and molds.

Heat - Processing the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes is enough heat to kill actively growing bacteria and prevent yeast and mold growth under normal sanitary circumstances. This is how we control the yeasts and molds that were not affected by the lower pH.

Why did the recipe call for frozen apple juice?

Enzymes -When consumers buy apple juice in a jug they do not want the juice to turn into apple jelly in the container; they want a nice clear, thin juice instead of a viscous, cloudy liquid. To accomplish this one of the things manufacturers do is add enzymes that destroy the pectin. Most enzymes can be inactivated by heat. Therefore, we used concentrated apple juice that was heated in order to evaporate water, and thus the pectin destroying enzymes were inactivated by the heating process. If you live in an area where truly fresh pressed apple juice (that has had no enzymes added) is available one could use 7 cups of fresh pressed cider instead if you prefer.

 

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The Jam Scientist

Home Canned Spiced Applesauce - Low Sugar, Tall Taste

Home Canned Spiced Applesauce - Low Sugar, Tall Taste
Home Canned Spiced Applesauce - Low Sugar, Tall Taste

A Best Little Jam House Exclusive

My go-to applesauce, sweetened with concentrated apple juice and less sugar. I generally make my applesauce using whatever apples are on sale. This week the produce market had Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith apples on special, but we could use any blend of sweet and tart apples that we like. This recipe is a staple. I made over 40 pints and it will not last the year.

Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith apples
Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith Apples

"I always have applesauce in my fridge...my go-to snack."
  Professional Tennis Player and Author: Sloane Stephens

 

 

If you would like to print the recipe without all the pictures please click Download Low Sugar Homemade Canned Applesauce

First, I will be sharing just the recipe for making applesauce.  If you need information about the basic canning process please click here for Virginia Tech's excellent booklet Boiling Water Bath Canning.

 

Golden acorn logo!!! copy

 

Home Canned Spiced Applesauce - Low Sugar

Recipe type: 

Sauce

 

Produces:

 8 pints or 4 quart jars

Prep time: 

2 hours

 

Headspace:

1/2 inch

Cook time: 

1 hours

 

Processing:

20 minutes in pint and half pint jars, 25 for quart jars

Total time: 

3 hours plus 30 minutes

     

Ingredients:

  • 12 pounds apples (half sweet, and half tart apples)
  • 3 inch cinnamon sticks (2)
  • 3 inches fresh ginger (sliced)
  • 1 cup water or apple juice (to keep apples from scorching while cooking)  
  • Zest and juice of two lemons 
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large can of frozen concentrated apple juice (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Core and quarter apples. Dip apples as they are quartered into a lemon/water solution of 1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons) in 4 cups water to prevent browning. After dipping transfer apples to cooking pot. One stock pot will easily hold 12 pounds of apples.
    Core and quarter apples
    Core and Quarter Apples
     
  1. Add cinnamon sticks, 3 inches fresh ginger (sliced thinly and in spice bag), water or apple juice, and zest of two lemons (chopped finely) to cooking pot.
  2. Let fruit cook for approximately 20-35 minutes, or until the fruit has broken down.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare jars in boiling water bath, and prepare lids per manufacturer's instructions.
  4. Remove cinnamon sticks and spice bag before puréeing or mashing.
  5. Use a food mill, potato masher (will produce chunkier sauce but you will need to take out skins), or fruit/vegetable strainer to mash or purée the fruit. I use a KitchenAid™ strainer attachment.
    Assembly order of KitchenAid strainer attachment.
    Assembly order of KitchenAid™ strainer attachment.
    KitchenAid Fruit/Vegetable Strainer Setup
    KitchenAid™ Fruit/Vegetable Strainer Setup
                                                         
    KitchenAid Fruit/Vegetable Strainer Top View
    KitchenAid™ Fruit/Vegetable Strainer Top View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KitchenAid strainer removes peels and seeds.
KitchenAid™ strainer removes peels and seeds.

6.  After puréeing, return pot with sauce to the stove and simmer.

7.  Add lemon juice, salt, almond extract, concentrated apple juice (if using), half the sugar and stir well.

8.  Taste and adjust sweetness to your taste. You may want to add more lemon juice at this point to adjust sweet-tart balance.

9.  Ladle hot applesauce into your prepared jars to 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles by sliding a small spatula or plastic knife, between jar and sauce; pressing gently on sauce to release trapped air. Repeat procedure two or three times around jar. Wipe rims, apply lids and screw on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes for both half pints and pints, 25 minutes for quarts.

I suggest you label your jars. One may simply write on the lid, or you may download my labels click Download Spiced Applesauce Low Sugar round label 2. My labels have a larger round label for the lid and a smaller oval label for the front of jar. One just needs to write in the canning date, cut out, and glue the label on the jar.

 

For further information about making applesauce, and suggestions about how to customize your batch and avoid pitfalls click Home Canned Applesauce - What apples, in what ratios, with what amazing ingredients, in what style, and what pitfalls to avoid.

If you are looking for something a little different in applesauce click Canned Cranberry Spiced Applesauce - hands down absolutely the best applesauce I have ever eaten 

 

The Professor's Rating

The Professor gave it 4 stars.  "... Nice blend of flavors - I don't think it is too sweet."  

Just FYI - The Professor likes a sweet applesauce (so you may want to adjust). This recipe has a permanent place in the pantry.

 

Spiced Applesauce Low Sugar Demystified

 

How do I know this recipe is safe? pH and Heat

pH  - To be safe from botulism bacteria growth and its food poisoning toxins, the pH of canned goods must be below 4.6 (one wants to stay below pH 4.4. to be on the safe side). Sweet eating Apples generally have a pH of about 4.0.  Tart apples generally have a lower pH, typically a pH between 3.3 and 3.9. We also added some lemon juice to the recipe, so the sauce should be between pH 3.1-3.6, well within the safety zone.

Heat - Processing the jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes is enough heat to kill actively growing bacteria and prevent yeast and mold growth under normal sanitary circumstances in this thick sauce.

Why should I use 2 lemons?

One normally adds a tablespoon of lemon juice for each quart of sauce to prevent color changes from enzymes and to brighten the flavor.

Why work so hard to remove a few air bubbles?

Air left in the apple purée expands during processing and may cause the applesauce in the jar to overflow into the water bath, called siphoning. This is not dangerous, but this increases the risk of a jar not sealing, so one should be aware of this issue. You can reduce the chances of siphoning by applesauce, leaving ½ inch head space to make room for expansion during processing, and waiting 5 - 10 minutes with the heat off at the end of processing before removing jars from the water bath to allow pressure inside the jars to decrease.

Disclosure:

I received no compensation for appliances mentioned or shown in this blog.

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The Jam Scientist

Canned Cranberry Spiced Applesauce - hands down absolutely the best applesauce I have ever eaten

Canned Cranberry Spiced Applesauce - hands down absolutely the best applesauce I have ever eaten
Canned Cranberry Spiced Applesauce - hands down absolutely the best applesauce I have ever eaten

A Best Little Jam House Exclusive

This lovely pink applesauce has subtle complexity and sophistication that will be appreciated by adults, but is still enjoyable to children. I developed the recipe by happenstance. I generally make my applesauce using whatever apples are on sale. Last week the produce market had Honeycrisp, and Gala apples on special, but tart apples were over twice the price. I remembered I had some frozen cranberries in the freezer that might make up for my lack of tart apples. I decided to give it a try, and I am glad I did.  This recipe is a keeper!

 

A bad woman can’t make good applesauce - Ozark proverb.

The fear seemed to be that a bad woman's sauce would not be tart enough.  We need have no apprehension  here. We will achieve that elusive sweet tart balance.

 

For further information about making applesauce, and suggestions about how to customize your batch and avoid pitfalls click http://www.bestlittlejamhouse.com/my-blog/2016/10/home-canned-applesauce-surprising-ingredients-create-your-own-signature-blend.html

 For another spiced applesauce recipe with low sugar and tall taste click here.

If you would like to print the recipe without all the pictures please click Download Cranberry Spiced Applesauce.

 

First, I will be sharing just the recipe for making applesauce.  If you need information about the basic canning process please click here for Virginia Tech's excellent booklet Boiling Water Bath Canning.

 

Cranberry Spiced Applesauce

Golden acorn logo!!! copy

Recipe type: 

Sauce

 

Produces:

 8 pints or 4 quart jars

Prep time: 

2 hours

 

Headspace:

1/2 inch

Cook time: 

1 hours

 

Processing:

20 minutes in pint and half pint jars, 25 for quart jars

Total time: 

3 hours plus 30 minutes

     

Ingredients:

  • 12 pounds apples (half Honeycrisp, and half Gala apples)
     12 pounds apples
    12 pounds apples
  • 3 cups of cranberries (one 12-ounce bag)
  • 3 inch cinnamon sticks (2)
  • 1 cup water or apple juice (to keep apples from scorching while cooking)  
  • Zest of one lemon 
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon 

Instructions:

  1. Core and quarter apples. Dip apples as they are quartered into a lemon/water solution of 1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons) in 4 cups water to prevent browning. After dipping transfer apples to cooking pot. One stock pot will easily hold 12 pounds of apples  
    12 pounds apples in stock pot
    12 pounds apples in stock pot
  2. Add cranberries, cinnamon sticks, water or apple juice, and zest of one lemon (chopped finely) to cooking pot.
  3. Let fruit and berries cook for approximately 20-35 minutes, or until the fruit has broken down.
    Cooked fruit and berries
    Cooked fruit and berries
  4. Meanwhile, prepare jars in boiling water bath, and prepare lids per manufacturer's instructions.
  5. Remove cinnamon sticks before puréeing or mashing.
  6. Used food mill, potato masher (will produce chunkier sauce, but you will need to take out skins), or fruit/vegetable strainer to purée the fruit and berries together.
     Fruit/vegetable strainer puréeing the fruit and berries together
    Fruit/vegetable strainer puréeing the fruit and berries together
  7. After puréeing, return pot with sauce to the stove and simmer.
  8. Add lemon juice, salt, almond extract, half the sugar and stir well.
  9. Taste and adjust sweetness to taste. You may want to add more lemon juice at this point to adjust sweet-tart balance (no bad women here).
  10. Ladle hot applesauce into your prepared jars to 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles by sliding a small spatula or plastic knife, between jar and sauce; pressing gently on sauce to release trapped air. Repeat procedure two or three times around jar. Wipe rims, apply lids and screw on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes for both half pints and pints, 25 minutes for quarts.

I suggest you label your jam jars. One may simply write on the lid, or you may download my labels click here to Download Cranberry Spiced applesauce round label. My labels have a larger round label for the lid and a smaller oval label for the front of jar. One just needs to write in the canning date, cut out, and glue the label on the jar.

 

The Professor's Rating

The Professor gave it 5 stars.  "... Perfect blend of flavors... The best I ever ate... I think the sweetness is just right...Can I have some more?"  

Just FYI - The Professor likes a sweet applesauce (so you may want to adjust). This recipe has a permanent place in the pantry.

 

Cranberry Spiced Applesauce Demystified

Jam scientist's notebook colored

How do I know this recipe is safe? pH and Heat

pH  - To be safe from botulism bacteria growth and its food poisoning toxins, the pH of canned goods must be below 4.6 (one wants to stay below pH 4.4. to be on the safe side). Sweet eating Apples generally have a pH of about 4.0.  Cranberry juice typically has a pH between 2.3 and 2.5. We also added some lemon juice to the recipe, so the sauce should be between pH 3.0 and 3.5 - well within the safety zone.

Heat - Processing the jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes is enough heat to kill actively growing bacteria and prevent yeast and mold growth under normal sanitary circumstances in this thick sauce.

Why did you only use the juice of only 1/2 lemon? I thought we were supposed to use two?

It is true that one normally adds a tablespoon of lemon juice for each quart of sauce to preserve to prevent color changes. Cranberries have a high concentration of ascorbic acid like citrus fruits do, so I did not need to add any lemon juice to this recipe. I added some lemon to brighten the flavor a little; but I did not need any lemon.

Why would I want ascorbic acid in my Applesauce?

Ascorbic acid helps control enzymatic changes in the sauce. Enzymatic changes are not dangerous, but can effect color click hear for Secrets for Canning Applesauce.

Why work so hard to remove a few air bubbles?

Air left in the apple purée expands during processing and may cause the applesauce in the jar to overflow into the water bath, called siphoning. Again, this is not dangerous, but this increases the risk of a jar not sealing, so one should be aware of this issue. You can reduce the chance of siphoning by removing air bubbles, leaving ½ inch head space to make room for expansion during processing, and waiting 5 - 10 minutes with the heat off at the end of processing before removing jars from the water bath to allow pressure inside the jars to decrease.

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The Jam Scientist

Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili - Hot and Sweet (It's Addicting)

Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili
Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili a Perfect Companion with Cheese

A Best Little Jam House Exclusive

If you like your jelly hot and sweet - this one's for you. This jam is quite hot - the perfect heat for firing up a cheese, or ham & cheese, sandwich with only a thin smear added. Use it more like a condiment - but watch out it's addicting!

"Sweet" Pomegranate in Spring
"Sweet" Pomegranate in Spring

It all started with this lovely young pomegranate tree that I have in my backyard. I chose it for its ornamental spring flours and fruit juice that is less pigmented, and therefore less staining on my kitchen counters. It is the "Sweet" variety. Yes, the fruit is sweeter than what you can buy in the supermarket. I have tried making the standard pomegranate jelly with its fruit before, but pomegranates have a subtle flavor (think apple jelly) - a little on the boring side. I decided to try to fire the jelly up - and boy did I!

If you are buying pomegranates at the market you will need 7 or 8 large pomegranates, or you can just buy bottled juice.

For information on how to seed and juice pomegranates see my post dated 10-20-16

First, I will be sharing just the recipe for making the jelly.  If you need information about the basic canning process please click here for Virginia Tech's excellent booklet Boiling Water Bath Canning.

For those new to canning, please note that it is important not to make changes to the recipe.  Proportions are important and must be maintained for success. It is also not advisable to double the recipe because larger volumes would slow evaporation and affect the fresh flavor we want.

If you would like to print this recipe without all the pictures please click here to Download Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili Recipe.

Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili

Author: Adapted from Betty Crocker's Pomegranate-Rosemary Jelly Recipe

Warning: Habanero chilies may look like cute little walnut sized pumpkins, but take care; Habanero chilies are extremely hot. One little chili will fire up a pot of  jelly to medium hot strength, and two will make a truly hot jelly.

http://www.bestlittlejamhouse.com/.a/6a01b8d2238f49970c01b8d229dcf1970c-pi

Recipe type:

Jelly

 

Serves:

8, 8-oz jars, or half-pints

Prep time: 

1  hour

 

Head space:

1/4 inch

Cook time: 

1 hour

 

Processing:

10 minutes

Total time: 

2 hours

     

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 or 2 habanero chilies
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 1 1/3 packages (1 3/4 ounces each pack) fruit pectin
  • 5 cups sugar

Instructions:

1.  Set up your water bath canner, sterilize your jars, and warm your lids in a pan of warm water.

2.  Wearing protective gloves cut the tops off the chili(es) and remove the seeds. Take care NOT to touch your eyes.

3.   In a food processor, blend the chili(es) with the lemon juice until smooth.

4.  Measure sugar and set aside in a bowl (it will be added all at once later in the recipe).

5.  In a large saucepan, preserving kettle, or Dutch oven, cook the pomegranate juice, Habanero chili(es) with lemon juice, and pectin until the pectin has dissolved.  Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

6.  Add sugar all at once and bring to a full rolling boil while stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove pot from heat, check the set. You can check set by using the sheet or plate test. If not set, continue cooking for 1 minute more.

7.  Pour jelly into half-pint (8 ounce) jelly jars leaving a 1/4 inch heads space.  This will make 8 jars. Wipe the rims of the jar and seal.  Place into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

I suggest you label your jelly jars. One may simply write on the lid, or you may download my personal labels  Download Pomegranate Pepper Jelly round label. My labels have a larger round label for the lid and a smaller oval label for the front of jar. One just needs to write in the canning date, cut out, and glue the label on the jar. If the jam will be used as a Christmas gift, The Graphics Fairy has some nice ideas for holiday labels  http://thegraphicsfairy.com/homemade-gifts-jelly-holiday-labels-reader-feature/.

The Professor's Rating

The Professor did not originally like this jelly. The Professor has quite a sweet tooth and he normally uses a heaping helping of preserves in his plane yogurt every evening. Imagine his surprise when he tasted this HOT (I used 2 habaneros) jelly for the first time - He was not amused! So I had to get a little sneaky to get him to try it again. I smeared a modest amount as a base of his personal sized pizza - then topped it with Canadian bacon, basil, thyme, garlic, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and a little drizzle of olive oil over the top. He loved it  - 4 stars - saying "I really like this"! It has a place in our pantry!

Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili Demystified

Jam scientist's notebook coloredHow do I know this recipe is safe? pH, Water Activity, and Heat

pH  - To be safe from botulism bacteria growth and its food poisoning toxins, the pH of canned goods must be below 4.6 (one wants to stay below pH 4.4. to be on the safe side). Pomegranates are generally between pH 2.9 and 3.2.  Habanero chilies have a pH between 5-6, which is comparatively high. We added some lemon juice (pH 2.0 - 2.6) to help offset the higher pH of the chilies in the recipe, so the jelly should be between pH 3.0 and 3.4 - well within the safety zone. Pomegranates, with their rather low pH, make a good base for blending small amounts of higher pH ingredients or fruits.

Water activity - We also added sugar to this recipe. Salt and sugar "hold onto" water very well and therefor the water is not usable to bacteria for growth. The measurement of how much water is available for microbes' growth is called water activity or aw. A water activity of 0.85 or less is considered the safe cutoff level for deterring pathogen growth (however, yeasts and molds can still grow at at this level). Traditionally made jams (like the one we just made) have a water activity of between 0.75 - 0.80 - so we have additional protection from bacteria growth because of the sugar. Traditional jams will last almost twice as long as low sugar jams because of their lower water activity, and they are safe for longer times out of the refrigerator.

Heat - Processing the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes is enough heat to kill actively growing bacteria, plus kill yeast, and molds under normal sanitary circumstances. This is how we control the yeasts and molds that were not affected by the low pH or moderately low water activity.

Why in the world would I want to use such a hot chili?

There are two reasons I chose Habaneros. First, all chilies have a relatively high pH - if I added several larger, but milder chilies, I might need to add a cup or more of vinegar to try to get the pH into a safe range, and that would adversely affect the taste. Second, pomegranate jelly has a very mild flavor I wanted to liven up the jelly, but not overpower the pomegranate flavor. Habanero chilies have heat, but almost no identifiable flavor. 

Why did I give a range for how much pectin to use?

Pomegranates are a very low pectin fruit and have a reputation of being hard to jell. I would use additional pectin (1 1/3 box) if I were using traditional types of pectin. However, I would only use one box if I was using a low sugar pectin. Low sugar pectin tends to get somewhat granular if the amount used is too high.

 

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The Jam Scientist