Wednesday, November 17, 2010
As a chef, I'm always striving to improve my culinary abilities. While I think I have the flavor component of jam and preserve-making down, I've got a lot to learn in the "set" department. Practice makes perfect, thus I endeavored to create a preserve which would stand in for they typical cranberry jello that adorns many a Thanksgiving table; a "sauce" in the old-fashioned sense of the word, one recognizable as a traditional dinner accompaniment, but that people want to eat.
I do enjoy a chunky cranberry sauce, and wanted to include apples- this month's ingredient- to add to the texture of the jam. Originally intending to make my jam cranberry-based, I changed my mind when searching for an appropriate juice, I couldn't find a single one that didn't contain extra sugar or additives. And then I saw it: 100% pomegranate juice. It seemed to be exactly the tart flavor base I was looking for- original, yet basic enough to dress up the way I liked. For a third flavor and floral scent I threw an orange into the mix, and then laid it down with traditional holiday spices.
5 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings
24 oz. 100% pomegranate juice
3 green apples, peeled and diced
1 orange, juice and zest
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 stick cinnamon
1/4 star anise
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups sugar
1 box ball powdered pectin
Tie cinnamon, anise and clove in a small sachet. Combine juice, apples, orange, ginger and spices in a medium pot. Bring to a low simmer, cover and cook until apples have poached and are dark pink in color, about 15 minutes. Add sugar and pectin, turn up the heat to a medium simmer and cook until "set", about another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the jam rest for 5 minutes. This step will ensure the apple will be evenly dispersed in the jam, instead of floating on the top of the jar. Remove sachet, ladle into 1/2 pint jars, attach lids and rings and process 10 minutes.
I am extremely happy with this jam! The balance of sweet-tartness, and the flavors of orange and traditional spices are perfect. The jars are a beautiful garnet color, with gems of apple suspended within. The set is lovely, and I'm already imagining spoonfuls of pom-apple "sauce" on turkey, stuffing and biscuits. Happy Thanksgiving!