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Pomegranate molasses is a rich, thick syrup that is made from the concentrated juice of the pomegranate fruit. Suitable for both sweet applications such as topping ice cream and savory uses such as making glazes for meats, this molasses has grown in popularity. Not all pomegranate molasses is the same, however. You can choose the best by checking for thick viscosity, dark color, an even texture with no flecks and natural ingredients rather than chemical additives.
The first characteristic of quality pomegranate-based molasses is viscosity, or thickness. Like traditional sugarcane-based molasses, the best pomegranate-based molasses is thick and sticky. To gauge this, tilt the bottle. Good molasses should move slowly and coat the sides of the bottle. If it flows faster than honey or does not stick to the bottle, the packager might have diluted the pomegranate juice with less-expensive juices or water, which will negatively affect its flavor.
Good-quality pomegranate molasses will also be a deep, rich red — so red that it appears almost brown or even nearly black. This is because pomegranate juice naturally darkens in color as the processor cooks off its moisture. You shouldn't buy molasses that has a light red or pink color. Such molasses might actually be grenadine — a sweet syrup that is used in cocktails — or it might be too light because it has not been reduced enough to produce good flavor. Light red or pink pomegranate molasses might also have been mixed with other juices.
Another feature of the best pomegranate molasses is even, smooth texture. In their natural state, pomegranates consist of tough juice-containing seeds that are held in place by a membrane similar to the white pith in lemons or oranges. After juicing the fruits, a reputable processor will strain any errant pieces of seed or membrane out out of the juice. Take a close look at the molasses that you're thinking about buying. If you see any white or light-red flecks in pomegranate molasses, it's a sign of slipshod processing.
Finally, the best pomegranate molasses is free from artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Quality pomegranate molasses typically contains nothing, in fact, but pomegranate juice, natural cane or beat sugar and sometimes lemon juice. Avoid brands that include corn syrup or flavoring in their ingredients. There is no need for chemical preservatives, either. Pomegranate juice is naturally acidic enough to keep unopened molasses from going bad at room temperature, although you should refrigerate it after it has been opened.