Saturday, June 2, 2012

Pomegranate Jelly

Last weekend's sighting of a straggling backyard pomegranate tree bursting with fruit sent me in search of recipes.  

This pomegranate jelly recipe combines the best of two recipes from the 1920s: one from the Argus, 9 May 1928 and the other from the Perth Sunday Times, 7 April 1929. Since I don't have a jelly bag to strain the jelly - and the jelly bag was suspended between two upturned chairs on the kitchen table overnight - the recipe has been updated.

The original recipes call for either "one pint of juice from pomegranate seeds" or "seeds enough to yield a pint of juice".

Pomegranate Jelly

4 pomegranates
250 ml water
2 lemons, juiced (peel 1 lemon first and keep the rind)
120g white sugar
3 eggs, whites and washed shells only
5 leaves gelatine
Cochineal* (optional)

Extract the pomegranate juice by simmering the pomegranate seeds in a little water for 10 or 15 minutes and then passing the liquid through a wire sieve, squashing the seeds against the mesh to extract the juice. Alternatively, cut the pomegranates in half and squeeze on a sturdy lemon or orange juicer. Four pomegranates should yield 500-550ml juice.

Whisk the egg whites with a little water.

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 to 7 minutes; remove the gelatine mass and gently squeeze out the water.

Put the pomegranate juice, water, lemon juice, the rind of one lemon, sugar, egg whites and egg shells into an enamel saucepan. Over a gentle heat, whisk the mixture until it comes to the boil; skimming constantly. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the gelatine, cover the pan; let it stand ten minutes.

Pour a kettle of boiling water through a jelly bag (or a piece of muslin or a clean tea-towel) to warm it. When the water has drained off, pour in the jelly and let it strain into a wetted mould. (I put the wetted jelly mould in a large saucepan, placed the sieve across the top and draped the warm wet muslin across the sieve.) Refrigerate the jelly for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to set.

* Cochineal is a natural red food colouring derived from a cactus insect native to Mexico and South America. In Australia it is still sold under the "Queen" brand, but labelled Pink Natural Colour rather than Cochineal. The pomegranate jelly was such a deep oxheart red, the cochineal wasn't needed.

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