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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

How do I seed and juice pomegranates?

Okay, I have a bag full of pomegranates, how do I seed them?

Two methods

Traditional Method:

1.  Cut both the crown and base ends off the pomegranate, taking some of the white pith with each end.

2.  Lightly score the skin in quarters or fifths, from the stem end to the crown end. Firmly yet gently break the sections apart, following your score lines.

3.  Roll out the arils (juice sacks) with your fingers and discard everything else. Some people do this under water, but I just work on a cutting board.

pomegranate's arils
Roll out the pomegranate arils (juice sacks) with your fingers

I saw the Pioneer Woman demonstrating this method on her blog. I have not tried this yet, but you might have luck with it.

Fanning Method:

1.  Cut the pomegranate in half vertically.

2.  With the cut side up, make 4 equally spaced cuts 1 inch long and 1 inch deep.

3.  Hold the pomegranate half, cut side down, over a deep bowl and pull the fruit open but not apart, using equal pressure from both hands.

4.  Holding the pomegranate half, cut side down, in the palm of one hand, whack the top of the fruit with the back of a large spoon. The seeds should fall out.      

Now how do I juice the arils?

 arils (juice sacks) in preserving pan
Arils (juice sacks) in preserving pan.

This is my personal method for making wonderfully clear juice.  I do own a jelly bag, but when I double stack my colanders, or sieves, I get faster results. Taking time to filter the juice makes a huge difference in how clear the end product will be, but it is time-consuming. If you decide not to invest this much time filtering, you could stop at step #5.

Making the juice:

1.  Place all the arils (juice sacks) in a large cooking pot.

2  Add enough water to cover the bottom of pot with water and heat to boiling.

Use an immersion blunder to juice fruit
Use an immersion blender to juice fruit.

3.  Use an immersion blender to juice fruit.

4. Just strain- Strain juice through colander, or sieve, two times. I double stack my sieves to speed things up. Discard remaining seeds and pulp.

5.  Filter with one layer of paper towels -Line the sieve with a wet paper towel(s) and filter two times using fresh wet towels at each filtration. Again, I stack my sieves to speed things up.

6.  Filter with two layers of paper towels -Line the sieve with two layers of wet paper towels and filter two times using fresh wet towels for each filtration. Again, I stack my sieves to speed things up.

6. Filter with coffee filters-Line one sieve with wet coffee filters and filter 1 time.

7.  Put juice in a pitcher and leave juice in refrigerator overnight - when you pour out your juice the next day, take care to leave any sediment behind in the pitcher.

Check out my recipe for Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili dated 10-21-16. If you like your jelly hot and sweet - this jelly is for you!

Many seeds and much pulp to discard
Many seeds and much pulp to discard.
Straining juice through two sieve stacked together
Straining juice through two sieves stacked together.

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The Jam Scientist