Blood Orange, Pomegranate and Champagne Jelly
I decided to create a recipe based on an existing idea and use testing materials to show the process. Since I always stress the idea of following a recipe exactly and not making substitutions or on the fly revisions, I pH tested my recipe every step of the way, recorded the process and have the results. So, here we go.
This was the original draft recipe I created for testing:
- 1.5 cups pomegranate juice (3 whole fruits)
- 1.5 cups blood orange juice (3-4 whole fruits)
- 3 cups Champagne
- 4 cups sugar
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 boxes regular pectin
Clean 3 large pomegranates and juice, straining out seeds and getting at least 1.5 cups of liquid. Juice 3-4 blood oranges for 1.5 cups of liquid. Combine with 3 cups of champagne. Bring to a boil then turn down to medium high. Add sugar. Boil for 10 minutes. Add pectin and boil until mixture passes jelly test.
Quickly ladle into hot sterilized canning jars, leaving .25 inch headspace. Process in boiling water bath canner 5 minutes.
I started with 3 poms and 4 blood oranges (one not pictured) and some o.k. champagne. Since this is going into a jelly there was no need to get the really good booze, but I didn't want to use really cheap nasty stuff either. This worked great and was the good combo of dry and champagne flavor the jelly needed.
Next I juiced the oranges and pomegranate into a jelly bag and let drain for 1 hour. I estimated that each pomegranate would yield about 1/2 cup of juice and that each blood orange would probably be around 1/3. I got more like 2 cups of juice total.
Next my scientist assistant and I did a pH test of what the juice mixture was and had a control test of lemon juice dyed blue to assure that the color of the substance wouldn't effect the pH results. The bright red strip that is solidly a 2 is the dyed lemon juice. The strip in the foreground is our juice mixture.
Our aim was to make sure that our mixture was safe for water bath canning with a pH of 4.6 or lower. We also tested the champagne on it's own which was a fairly solid pH of 4.
So far we had 2 fairly high acid ingredients so our recipe was probably going to be ok. I wanted a 1 to 1 ratio of champagne to juice so that all the flavors could really shine and complement each other. 2 cups of champagne was added to the juice and pH tested again.
We're between 2 and 3 at this point, so still good. I decided to try 3 cups of sugar with the recipe. I wanted the result to be sweet, but not overpoweringly so and give the recipe enough sugar to react to. We tested pH after each cup of sugar was introduced to show the progression with left being the least sugar at one cup, the middle strip being 2 cups of sugar and right being the full 3 cup amount:
I think this image is really the most important for a beginning canner to see. Often times we'll read a recipe and have the urge to greatly reduce or eliminate the sugar in it. The pH difference here is really noticeable and if you were working with something that wasn't as high acid, such as a hot pepper jelly or a lower acid fruit, even small reductions in sugar content could throw the pH off into unsafe territory.
Next was process. My theory was that the initial boiling would reduce the water content so that the jellying process would be more quick. That actually wasn't the case. We ended up boiling the jelly sugar/juice/wine combo for 10 minutes, adding 2 boxes of regular pectin, then boiling it again for an additional 15 minutes before the jelly test was passed. I'll need to further experiment with cooking time to make sure they jellying process happens with less cooking time after the pectin is added. Here is the resulting product:
5 minutes is the recommended minimum processing time for jellies and I went with that time based on me being about 200 feet above sea level and this being a high acid product. Just to make sure, we tested the final jelly as well. The picture isn't good but the final product solidly between the 2 and 3 range.
The resulting product was a bit darker than I wanted it to be, but had a fantastic flavor. I really love the balance of tart and sweet this resulted in. The recipe yielded 2 8oz jars and 3 4 oz jars.
My observations in general:
- I need to work on the processing methods and times. I was wrong in my estimations. - This is a really low yield recipe and I'd like to make more than 3.5 cups. - Next time I'll double the amount of ingredients used and re-test to make sure everything maintains good pH level without compromising flavor or greatly increasing cooking time.
The final recipe as tested now is more like the following:
Blood orange, pomegranate and champagne jelly
- 1 cup pomegranate juice (3 whole fruits)
- 1 cup blood orange juice (4 whole fruits)
- 2 cups champagne
- 3 cups sugar
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 boxes regular pectin
Clean 3 large pomegranates and juice, straining out seeds and getting at least 1 cup of liquid. Juice 4 blood oranges for 1 cups of liquid. Combine with 2 cups of champagne. Add sugar and stir to combine. Bring to a boil then turn down to medium high. Boil for 10 minutes. Add pectin and lemon juice. Bring mixture a rolling boil and boil at least 15 minutes, until mixture passes jelly test.
Immediately ladle into hot sterilized canning jars, leaving .25 inch headspace. Process in boiling water bath canner 5 minutes.
Let stand 48 hours until completely set. Yields 3.5 cups jelly.