My wife and I were doing some yard work this weekend and started to trim the neighbors completely ignored pomegranate tree that was hanging on our side of the yard with its leaves and very sad looking, yellow and splitting fruit that was falling in our yard and making a mess.
In the process, we ended up with about thirty average sized pomegranates that turned out to be pretty tasty. Not being the wasteful types, we decided to see what we could do with them, so we washed them off and brought them inside.
We decided that it might be fun to make pomegranate juice at home and that steaming them in the pressure cooker would be the easiest way to extract the juice, so we began the process of building a juice extractor rig for the pressure cooker.
Since we don’t have a trivet to put in the bottom of our pressure cooker, we used a small stainless mixing bowl as a riser for our Pyrex collection bowl to keep it from sitting directly on the bottom of our 8qt. Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker Stockpot. This seemed to work very well and kept the collection bowl well away from the heat of the burner.
The next step was making a handle of sorts, so we could get the Pyrex bowl out. We used a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil to make a cradle for the bowl. The foil was large enough to be grasped to lift the bowl and wide enough to add stability while pulling the bowl out of the pot. The nice thing about aluminum foil is how fast it cools, so no burnt fingers.
With the collection bowl in place, we added our Steamer Basket to hold the fruit. Kuhn Rikon makes a Juice Extractor for pressure cookers, but it is only for one specific sized unit and ours is too narrow for it, so we improvised and it worked really well. Any heat safe steamer basket will work, you are just looking for something to hold the fruit while containing the seeds.
The fruit is in the steamer basket and we we’re ready to put on the lid and start the pressure. Our steamer basket holds just about 4 cups of pomegranate seeds perfectly. Loosely following the directions from Hip Pressure Cooking, we closed the lid and got to high pressure. We experimented with a few different times and found that 16 minutes produced a fair amount of juice with great color.
After 16 minutes at high pressure, we turned off the heat and allowed the pressure to come down via Natural Release, which takes about 15 minutes or so, but is well worth the wait to keep the juice from clouding or spraying out of the valve and making a huge mess of hot sticky red dye.
Even though the berries still look plump, they have given up most of their goodness…or have they?
Once we got the berries out of the pressure cooker and saw how plump they still looked, we decided to try and press them to get more of their deliciousness out. We brought out our Kuhn Rikon Potato Ricer, loaded it up about a third full and pressed the seeds. This resulted in what I will call pomegranate purée, with a vivid magenta color and an amazing flavor that would work great in sweet or savory applications.
After pressing the seeds in the potato ricer, they looked much more used up. I felt real bad that I couldn’t find a use for them, but apparently Pomegranate Seed Oil is really great for your skin. We did put some of the pressed seeds into a small bottle with vodka to see if we could extract even more flavor, so look for an update on that in the future.
The result of pressure extracting. Our 4 cup batch of raw pomegranate seeds was processed into about 3/4 cup clear juice and about 1-1/2 cups of purée. The juice was clear and delicious and the puree was the consistency of thin applesauce with an amazing flavor that would work well in sweet as well as savory dishes.
And here is the final result of our pomegranate experiment. We ended up with about 4 quarts of purée and about 1 quart of clear juice. We used all of the puree with some of the juice to make 24, 8oz jars of pomegranate jam, varying the amounts of sugar in each batch, to test different levels of sweetness. I plan on using the rest of the juice for drinking and to make grenadine.
So there you go. Pomegranates are an amazingly delicious, nutritious and versatile fruit. They may be a lot of work, but they are so worth it in the long run.
Next time we trim the neighbors tree, I plan on experimenting with using the pressure cooker to easily remove the seeds from the husk, so stay tuned.