Monday, October 25, 2010

Everything Is Better Topless...

Not "Just Another Canning Blog"

Lots of things are better topless, canning is no exception. I have learned, if you want to minimize sweat, stay comfortable, and save your clothing, it's best to leave the shirt behind while working in the kitchen. Your significant other will be shocked at first, but they will get used to it...eventually. Although, if you have kids or easily offended house guests...maybe you should leave the sports bra on ;)

Here is the main reason to go topless:
Exhibit A: Imagine instead of bare skin, this was a shirt. When juicing pomegranates, unless you want to throw away a perfectly good shirt, best leave it in the closet. I would say wear an old shirt, or an apron...but where's the fun in that?! Seriously, if you've never worked in a hot, sticky kitchen without a shirt on, you are missing out (Unless you are a hairy guy...then, best leave the shirt on for sanitary reasons!) After juicing pomegranates for two hours my kitchen looked like a crime scene and I had juice splatter everywhere. All I needed for clean-up was some warm water and a paper towel, Instead of having to wash a shirt or apron at the end of the day. So before you begin your adventures of canning, put down plenty of towels, keep water and a sponge handy, and go topless!

More Juicing and Jelly tips...

Thanks to a fellow Old Lady At Heart, my best friend Ri, I no longer have to juice pomegranates by hand. As seen above, this little juicer, although slightly messier than hand squeezing, is a life saver! I juiced two grocery bags full of pomegranates in only one hour, and my hands weren't aching afterward. FYI: since these old style juicers were made to handle small fruit, like oranges, you have to cut the poms in quarters before smashing their guts out. Thanks to Ri and her mommy for letting me borrow such a cool little blast from the past! I am now obsessed with finding one of these old style juicers, since new ones don't have the cajones to stand up to the sturdy pomegranate. I literally just placed a bid on Ebay for a 1950's Juice-O-Matic for $10, wish me luck! :D  

So let me remind you again why you should try making jelly for yourself at least once in your life:

I'll do the math for you...

 I found that at approximately 2 1/2 Pomegranates makes 1 cup of juice, you will need 3 1/2 cups of juice to make one batch of jelly. So, to make one batch (6 half pints) you will need about 8-9 pomegranates (7 1/2 to be exact, but get more just to be safe). I hear pomegranates are pretty pricey this year, so if you aren't lucky enough to know anyone with trees, you will be paying close to $2 a pop. However, doing it yourself is still cheaper, and it will be better quality than anything you can find at the grocery store. Let me break it down for you. For one, finding 100% pomegranate jelly at the grocery store is almost as illusive as the unicorn. The label may say one thing, but the ingredients always tell the truth. I found a 10oz jar of raspberry, pomegranate  jelly at ( for all you Northern California people) for $5.99. That is  59 cents per ounce and your not even getting 100% pomegranate and raspberry! Here is the ingredient list: Red Raspberries, Pomegranates, Concentrated Grape Juice, Fruit Pectin. Grape juice? Always check ingredient labels, companies try to pass off all kinds of juices and jelly as one thing, but will commonly dilute it with apple or grape juice because it's cheaper.
Making your own 100% pomegranate jelly: pomegranates ($18) Sugar ($2.75) Jar($2) Pectin ($4.75)= 57 cents per oz. at most. However, if you can get homegrown fruit for free your only real costs are Sugar ($2.75)  Pectin ($4.75) and jar lids ($2.50)since you could essentially reuse jars and jar rings from earlier cannings (always use new jar lids and check the rubber seal before use). If you have the essentials you are looking at a cost of 21 cents per oz. So, not only is your homemade jelly cheaper, but you know it's the real thing, not some cheap knock-off made in a factory.

I Don't Think You're Ready For This Jelly...
 Breakin' it down for ya.

My pomegranate jelly recipe: yields 6 half pints
3 1/2 cups pom juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 pkg of pectin (powdered)
5 cups of sugar

Below are some pictures of all the supplies you will need, I suggest getting everything out ahead of time and laying them out in a logical order. My old cooking teacher in high school at the beginning of class used to say, "Everyone get out your Mise En Place", which I'm pretty sure is French for: all the sh!t you need to create your dish. You should also get your ingredients ready too, especially the 5 cups of sugar the recipe calls for because you will need to add that to your pot all at once.

You will need sterile jars, you can either wash them in the dish washer ahead of time of wash them by hand and boil them in your water canner for 10 minutes. Don't boil your jar lids! You could warp your rubber seal, so instead wash them with soapy water, place them in a small saucepan, cover with water and put on medium heat (this helps to soften the rubber so you get a good seal). Once your jars are sterile, you need to keep them warm by leaving them in your water canner on medium heat while you mix up your ingredients. Add the pom and lemon juice to your pot and slowly stir in your pectin until dissolved. Turn on high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remember to use a big a$$ pot, you will be happy you did after the next step.

Over high heat,  pour in your sugar slowly while stirring constantly, let dissolve. Boil hard for exactly 2 minutes. As soon as your liquid starts to boil it will immediately start rising towards the top of your pot. If this happens DO NOT PANIC (like I did the first time). Simply wait until it is about two inches from the top and turn your heat down. Let it drop down a couple inches, then turn the heat back up. You kind of have to play with it, because on the one hand you want your liquid to remain at a hard boil, but you don't want a gooey, black stove-top either. You only have to keep up this madness for 2 minutes and then you can turn it down to medium-low. Now you are ready to start filling jars!

Take out one jar from your water bath canner using your jar grabber and dump out the water from the jar. Place jar on top of a clean towel at your work surface and stick a funnel in it's mouth (all of the water should have evaporated off by now). Grab your laddel and scoop up some of your liquid into the jar leaving 1/4 inch headspace (canning term for 1/4 inch from the top of the jar opening). Wipe rim of jar with a clean, damp paper towel to get off any sticky stuff. With tongs, grab a jar lid and ring out of your saucepan. Wipe the rubber part of the lid with a paper towel and put into position on top of the jar, making sure the rubber part is making contact with the jar rim. Place ring over jar lid, use your finger to hold down lid firmly as you screw on the ring. Make sure you don't screw it on too tight or you won't get a proper seal. Your jar full of liquid will be extremely hot, so try and do this as fast as possible.

Repeat this process for your remaining five jars. Using your jar grabber, being careful not to tip your full jars, place each jar into it's place in the water canner (make sure the water in your canner is at least an inch above your jars). If you accidentally tip the jar just put it back at your work station, open lid, wipe rim, replace lid and ring, and put it back in the canner (The reason for this is the liquid could have worked it's way under your seal when it tipped which could mess with the sealing process). Then turn your heat up and process. If you are in a valley, like I am, your jars need to boil hard for 5 minutes, I always go for 10 minutes though just to be safe. But if you aren't in a valley, use this chart:

1,001 feet to 3,000 feet, add 5 minutes to processing times.
3,001 feet to 6,000 feet, add 10 minutes to processing times.
6,001 feet to 8,000 feet, add 15 minutes to processing times.
8,001 feet to 10,000 feet, add 20 minutes to processing times.

After that, turn your heat down, pull out jars (keeping them upright) with your jar grabber and place them on a towel to cool and set. This will take a full 24 hours, so don't touch them or move them until after that. Be sure to not adjust the jar rings even if they are loose, do not tighten them, this will mess up the sealing process. Then in 24 hours you will have some gorgeous, sexy jelly, that everyone will be asking for. Be strong and try not to be a push-over. If someone not on your X-mas list asks for some, just point them in the direction of my blog and tell them to learn for themselves :)


1 comment:

  1. Nice blog though I have to admit this seems like a lot of work. Reminds me of that joke about Socialism takes to many evenings. Clean up must be a lot of work.

    I like the Topless thing, though you have to admit it's not going to work for everyone.

    Maybe you should do what guys do get an old sweatshirt and wear that for days on end.