Cafe Fernando is a fabulous, fabulous food blog that never fails to inspire with its gorgeous photography and always interesting recipes. Cenk, the man behind the blog, lives in Istanbul, happens to have spent several years living in San Francisco, and often shares dispatches from his travels including some incredible food adventures in Paris. Did I mention he’s also a professed chocoholic? (Do yourself a favor and check out his recent post about chocolate “lace” brownies inspired by Dolce and Gabbana’s Fall/Winter 2011 runway show.)
I’ve been waiting eagerly for months to make his pomegranate jam recipe after coming across it over the summer. Finally pomegranates are in season and the long wait is over. If you like making jams and preserves and don’t mind a little spattering of pomegranate juice in your kitchen, give this one a try. It has the most beautiful color and a deep, tangy-sweet flavor that adults and kids alike will enjoy.
If you’re new to making jellies, jams and preserves, it’s really no harder than simmering fruit juice and sugar together — and in this case, adding some of the seeds and a bit of lemon juice — then cooking it all down until you have the consistency you like. Be forewarned, there’s a lot of sugar involved like most traditional jams and jellies so I would put this into that category of “things to enjoy a little bit at a time”. And if you are wary about the canning bit, you can always freeze or refrigerate instead.
I followed Cafe Fernando’s recipe, but cheated a bit by substituting some bottled pomegranate juice for part the fresh-squeezed. It could have been this substitution, but I found that I needed a bit of pectin to get a proper gel (Cafe Fernando’s recipe uses fruit, sugar and lemon juice only). I would definitely recommend having some pectin on hand just in case. Because I wasn’t sure how much I would need, I mixed up a box of pectin with hot water, completely dissolving it, and added it to the jam in a few batches until I was happy with the consistency (use the chilled plate test). Since I plan to use some of the jam to fill holiday cookies, I held some aside as I was canning it and made that portion a quite a bit thicker using more pectin.
If you come across a great deal on pomegranates and want to try experimenting with them, you might also try Cafe Fernando’s recipe for a refreshing, shocking pink pomegranate sorbet, or making your own grenadine for cocktails and such using this simple recipe from the Cupcake Project. (Did you know most grenadine available in stores is pretty much just high fructose corn syrup? Your cocktails deserve better!) I think my next pomegranate experiment will be a version of my Pink Grapefruit Granita recipe. Will let you know how that one turns out.
By the way, PickYourOwn.org has a great webpage that gives step-by-step specifics for canning jams, jellies and fruit preserves. It’s a good one if you’re new to these techniques or if you just need a refresher.