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, or roasts. You can even drizzle it on 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.
HOW TO MAKE POMEGRANATE MOLASSES
It’s actually quite easy to make. All you do is boil down pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice for about 1 hour, 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. On to making the molasses!
TIPS FOR POMEGRANATE MOLASSES RECIPE
- 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. You may need to reduce the heat slightly.
- 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 a little over a cup, I’ll stop. This recipe should yield 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of molasses.
RECIPES USING POMEGRANATE MOLASSES
- 4 cups pomegranate juice
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (about one medium lemon)
- Boil the pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the juice boils, reduce the heat to a medium-low. You should see the liquid boiling very gently in the middle.
- Let the mixture simmer for about an hour, uncovered. Stir occasionally to make sure that the sugars don't stick to the bottom of the saucepan.
- After 45 minutes of simmering, you'll notice that a lot of liquid has burned off. Reduce the heat very slightly and let it simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Take a spoon and dip it into the molasses. If it coats the spoon, the molasses is done cooking (see photo in blog post for a visual).
- Turn off the heat and let it cool for 30 minutes before pouring it into a jar. The mixture will still be runny, but don't worry. The molasses thickens as it cools.
- This recipe should yield about 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses. Store the molasses in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
- If you are making fresh pomegranate juice, you'll need 6 to 7 large pomegranates to yield 9 cups of arils. 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. 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. 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 to 4 cups of pomegranate juice.
*Note: This recipe was originally published in 2014 and has been republished to updated photos and the headnote.