Give your roasts a bit of extra tang with this pomegranate molasses. It’s great for dips and sauces, too! Roll up your sleeves. We’re about to get messy.
I first came across this thing called “pomegranate molasses” about three years ago when I flipped through the pages of Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day (one of my favorite cookbooks). It was a recipe for Pomegranate-Glazed Eggplant with Tempeh, and the photo in the cookbook looked so inviting. I just wanted to grab a fork and dig in! When I saw pomegranate molasses in the ingredients list, I thought, “What on earth is that?” Mix pomegranate juice with molasses? That doesn’t sound right.
I was about ready to give up on that recipe when I found said pomegranate molasses at an ethnic food store. It was serendipity, just like the movie. The first thing I did when I went home was to pour some out on a spoon and stick it into my mouth (of course). The taste piqued my interest: tangy sweet with a slight bitter finish. For a while, the store-bought molasses and I were going along fine. Toss it with some root vegetables, and all of a sudden, that dish had a new Middle Eastern twist to it.
This year, I used pomegranate molasses for Heidi’s muhammara recipe, but something went wrong. The dip was off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. My gut reaction was to think that I messed up the recipe. After all, Heidi’s recipes are usually pretty fool proof. Then I tasted the pomegranate molasses. I just wanted to spit it right back out. It was soooo bitter! I completely lost faith in that stuff.
It wasn’t until I when to the PMA Foodservice Conference this summer that I realized there was something wrong with the pomegranate molasses I bought from stores. One of the vendors happened to be a pomegranate distributor, and I asked about my misfortune with store-bought pomegranate molasses. He told me that some companies that manufacture the molasses mix in the rind during the production process, which explains the bitterness I tasted. A good pomegranate molasses should use only the arils.
It was totally an “Aha” moment for me, and I can’t believe it has taken me nearly 4 months to take on this project.
I made a batch over this weekend, and OH. MY. FREAKIN. GOSH. (<— Yes, so good, I had to use “freakin.”) This ruby gold was ridiculous. Pomegranate molasses is indeed tangy, but it should NOT be bitter. It will take a while to make this at home, but believe me, it is well worth the effort!
I may have overachieved a bit by making pomegranate juice from scratch . . .
To juice the pomegranate, we’re going to dig into those ruby globes and rip out the arils. Find the crown of the pomegranate (the part that’s sticking out). (Did you know that the crown is actually the bottom of the pomegranate?) With a paring knife, dig into the part underneath the crown, and make a circular incision around the crown. You’re removing the crown and a bit of the skin underneath it so that the pomegranate is easier to peel later. Score the pomegranate.
Tear the pomegranate apart into different sections. By the way, the business section of the newspaper is perfect for catching loose pomegranates and stray pomegranate juice. Remove the arils by prying them loose from the peel. Do this step over a medium bowl filled with water.
When you’re done, you’ll notice that most of the seeds have sunken to the bottom of the bowl and the loose membrane will float on the top. It’s okay if some of the arils are floating, too. Remove any stray pieces of membrane, and drain all the water.
Pour the arils into a high-speed blender or food processor, and purée until the pomegranates look like a smoothie.
Strain the juice through a fine-mesh strainer. Use a spatula to press down on the purée so that you can squeeze out as much juice as possible.
Tada! Ruby goodness! I’ve seen recipes that suggest adding more water and sugar, but it tasted fantastic to me without the extra stuff.
MASTERING MY MISTAKES / COOKING NOTES
- Expect a mess. I squirted pomegranate juice everywhere in my kitchen, and I just spotted juice stains on top of my salt shaker.
- Don’t wear white clothes. Just don’t.
- It’s okay to test out the seeds to make sure that the pomegranate is good and ripe. No one’s looking.
Of course, you can skip this whole juicing process and just go straight to the store for some pomegranate juice. I won’t judge, I promise.
*Note: This post contains affiliate links. The products purchased through the links will cost the same to you, but I receive a small commission for the purchase. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep me inspired in the kitchen!