Have you ever tried pomegranate molasses? It’s tangy and bright in flavor, and it’s easy to make at home! You can use it for dressings, sauces, roasts or desserts!
I first came across this thing called “pomegranate molasses” about 6 years ago when I flipped through the pages of Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day (one of my favorite cookbooks, by the way). It found her recipe for Pomegranate-Glazed Eggplant with Tempeh, and the photo in the cookbook looked so inviting. As I read the ingredients list, I saw pomegranate molasses and thought, “What on earth is that?” Mix pomegranate juice with molasses? That doesn’t sound right.
Everything was going fine, until I bought a bad bottle of pomegranate molasses. I noticed something was wrong when I a batch of muhammara (red pepper dip) and wondered why my dip tasted bitter. Then, I tasted the molasses. Instead of a familiar sweet and tangy taste, the molasses had a bitter finish. I later learned that the bitterness could have come from the manufacturers not separating the pomegranate arils from the rind properly while making the pomegranate juice. Because of that experience, I make my own pomegranate molasses from scratch.
It’s actually quite easy to make. All you do is boil down pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice for about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, and that’s it. You can use store-bought pomegranate juice to make the molasses. I prefer using fresh pomegranate juice because the color of the molasses will look much brighter (and better for photographs).
To juice the pomegranate, we’re going to dig into those ruby globes and separate 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?) Holding the paring knife at a diagonal, start cutting underneath the crown. Make a full circle around the crown and remove it. Score the pomegranate.
Tear the pomegranate apart into different sections. Remove the arils by prying them loose from the rind. To prevent pomegranate juice from splattering everywhere (because it will), loosen the arils inside a large 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. Remove any stray pieces of membrane, and drain all the water.
Pour the arils into a high-speed blender or food processor, and pulse or gently blend until all the arils have been crushed.
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.
Right, we now have pomegranate juice. Onto making the molasses!
MASTERING MY MISTAKES / COOKING NOTES
- You can overcook the molasses: When I was making the video for this, I wasn’t keeping an eye on the molasses carefully and overcooked it. The molasses turned from a beautiful magenta color to brown. Once the molasses cooled, I ended up with a very thick and stiff substance that was very difficult to remove from the jar and difficult to work with. I ended up throwing it all away. The last 10 to 15 minutes of the cooking process are the most critical, so if you can, try to pay attention then.
- How to tell when the molasses is done: After an hour, you’ll notice that the bubbles will start to look thicker at more viscous. That’s a good sign. You want the molasses to be able to coat the back of a spoon (see below). I also like to pour the molasses into a glass measuring jar to see how much liquids I have. Once I’ve boiled everything down to about 1 1/2 cups or so, I’ll stop.
How To Make Pomegranate Molasses
Makes about 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups of pomegranate molasses. Once cooled, the consistency of this molasses should be similar to a runny honey.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- 6-7 large pomegranates, enough to yield about 9 cups of arils OR use 3 1/2 cups (950ml) of pomegranate juice
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
If you are pressing fresh pomegranate juice:
- Find the crown of the pomegranate (the part that’s sticking out). With a paring knife, dig into the part underneath the crown, and make a circular incision. 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. Remove the arils by prying them loose from the peel. If you want to prevent pomegranate juice from splattering everywhere, remove the arils inside a large 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 pulse until all the arils are crushed. The airls should crush pretty easily. It’s okay if the seeds are not pulverized. You may need to do this step in batches.
- 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. You should end up with 3 1/2 cups of pomegranate juice.
Make the molasses
- Add the pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring everything to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium-low or low so that the juice gently simmers. I transfer my saucepan to a smaller burner and leave it on the medium-low setting. If you are cooking this on a large burner, you’ll want to keep it on low. You should see the juice lightly bubbling in the center.
- Let the juice simmer for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Stirring the juice occasionally helps prevent the sugars from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
- By the end of the hour, most of the liquid should have burned off, and you’ll notice that the bubbles look more viscous. That’s exactly what we want. The molasses is done when you can coat the back of the spoon with the sauce. You can also let the spoon (that’s been dipped in the molasses) cool for 15 to 20 seconds and run your finger down the back of the spoon. If you see a clean streak, that’s also an indication that the molasses is ready to cool. The mixture will still look runny, but don’t worry. The molasses thickens as it cools. You should end up with about 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups of molasses.
- Remove the saucepan from heat, and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes before transferring to a glass jar. Let the molasses cool to room temperature. Store the molasses in the refrigerator for several months.
- Shortcut: Use store-bought pomegranate juice if you are pressed for time.
- Ways to cook with the molasses: The molasses is great for dressings, sauces, drizzles on cakes or roasting!
- Original Recipe: In the original recipe, I used 4 cups of pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/4 cup of lemon juice and instructed you to reduce the liquids to about 1 to 1 1/3 cups. Having made the molasses several more times now, I prefer the consistency of what I have outlined above.
- Making a smaller batch: I once tried a batch with about 2 1/2 cups pomegranate juice, 1/3 cup sugar and about 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and the results looked good. The cooking time was somewhere between 55 minutes to 1 hour, and I ended up with about 3/4 to 1 cup of molasses.
Use the molasses as a drizzle on cakes!
*Note: This recipe was originally published in 2014 and has been republished to updated photos and the headnote.