Emily Paster, author of “The Joys of Jewish Preserving” (Photo/Courtesy Paster)
Emily Paster, author of “The Joys of Jewish Preserving” (Photo/Courtesy Paster)

Cranberry applesauce? Pomegranate jelly? You ‘can’ do it!

A new cookbook updates the making of traditional Jewish jams, jellies and pickles, giving them a modern twist. Emily Paster’s “The Joys of Jewish Preserving” is a do-it-yourself guide with an emphasis on today’s flavors.

Paster, a Chicago-based blogger who has been canning and pickling since 2007, researched Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions and developed recipes that range from an apricot-poppyseed jam (perfect for hamantaschen) to membrillo (Sephardic quince paste), from kosher dill pickles to North African preserved lemons. The book also includes recipes using the preserves in dishes ranging from shakshouka (eggs cooked in spicy vegetable sauce) to chocolate babka with jam.

Below are two recipes from the book featuring seasonally available ingredients. Jars of either would make tasty homemade Hanukkah gifts.

I’ve adapted these recipes to store in the refrigerator, which simplifies the process. Keep the Cranberry Applesauce (perfect for latkes) and Pomegranate Jelly (try brushing on vegetables before roasting) stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

For directions on canning for safe, shelf-stable storage, see Paster’s book or check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture guide.


Emily Paster’s Cranberry Applesauce

Makes 3-4 pints

Adapted from “The Joys of Jewish Preserving”

4 lbs. apples, preferably a mix of sweet and tart varieties
2 cups whole cranberries (see notes)
½ cup water
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1¼ cups sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves

Cranberry Applesauce
Cranberry Applesauce (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Peel, core and coarsely chop apples. Combine apples, cranberries, water and juice in large saucepan. Bring to boil, turn heat down to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally.

While apples are simmering, wash and rinse heat-safe glass jars and lids in hot water. Have ready boiling water and fill the jars. Leave until ready to fill jars with applesauce.

When apples are tender (about 30-45 minutes), remove from heat but leave in pot. Mash apples with a potato masher or purée with immersion blender but leave some chunkiness. (Careful, mixture will be hot.) Add sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Return to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar and distribute spices.

Empty hot water from jars and ladle in applesauce, leaving ¾ inch of headspace. Wipe off any excess from rims. Screw on lids. Store in refrigerator.

Notes: Use raw, whole cranberries, either fresh or frozen. No need to defrost frozen berries before using.


Emily Paster’s Pomegranate Jelly

Makes three ½-pint (8 oz.) jars

Adapted from “The Joys of Jewish Preserving”

4 cups fresh pomegranate juice
3 cups sugar
3 Tbs. strained fresh lemon juice

Pomegranate Jelly
Pomegranate Jelly (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Place a saucer in freezer to chill. Wash and rinse glass jars and lids in hot water. Have ready boiling water and fill the jars. Leave until ready to fill jars with jelly.

Combine pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Continue to boil until the mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. Continue to cook, keeping at 220 degrees, until the mixture has thickened and reduced by a third, about 20 minutes of total cooking time. The liquid should be thicker and slower to drip than maple syrup.

Remove saucer from freezer. Place a dollop of jelly on it. Return to freezer for 1 minute. Push the dollop of jelly with your finger. If it wrinkles when pushed, the jelly is set. If not, continue to cook and test again after a few minutes.

Empty hot water from jars and ladle in jelly, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Wipe off any excess from rims. Screw on lids. Store in refrigerator. Jelly may need a day or so to firm up.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at clickblogappetit.com. Contact Faith at clickblogappetit@gmail.com.