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Pomegranate molasses, sometimes referred to as pomegranate syrup, is a tart-sweet reduction of pomegranate juice with the approximate consistency of maple syrup. Used in the cuisines of the Middle East, India, Armenia, and Georgia, this syrup varies in taste, color, and viscosity by region.
This liquid is made by extracting the juice of pomegranate seeds, called arils, and boiling it down until much of the water has evaporated. The resulting syrup is thick and purplish-brown in color. The resulting syrup is rich and flavorful. Tangy and sweet, pomegranate molasses can be used to enhance the natural flavors of many foods, and is especially good in marinades for poultry, lamb, and pork.
It is a fundamental flavoring component in the Persian dish fesenjan. A thick sweet-and-sour stew, fesenjan most often features chicken or some other poultry in combination with walnuts, onions, and pomegranate molasses. Variations of fesenjan feature lamb, fish, or no meat, and almost all versions are served over rice.
Another popular ethnic dish that showcases this ingredient is muhammarah. Muhammarah blends pomegranate molasses with a varying combination of walnuts, roasted red peppers, tomato paste, bread crumbs, olive oil, cumin, sugar, salt, and Aleppo or chili pepper to form a sauce or spread that is eaten with bread, fish, or poultry.
Pomegranate molasses is readily available in Middle Eastern grocery stores. If you're not fortunate enough to have a Middle Eastern or ethnic foods grocery store near you, you can still enjoy experimenting with it in your cooking because it's easy to make your own. You can press the juice from fresh arils or make the molasses from store-bought juice.
1 quart (1 L) pomegranate juice (freshly pressed or bottled)
1/4 to 1/2 cup (50 to 100 g) granulated sugar, according to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Combine the pomegranate juice, 1/4 cup (50 g) of the sugar, and the lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, over medium heat. Lower heat and allow mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally. Taste for sweetness. If desired, add additional sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring to dissolve completely.
2. Your molasses is done when it is reduced by about three quarters and is thick and syrupy. You should end up with 1 to 1 1/4 cups (240 to 300 ml) of molasses. Let cool in pan for half an hour.
3. Pour the molasses into a sterilized bottle or jar with a lid that forms a tight seal. When the molasses is completely cooled, put the lid on the jar and place it in the refrigerator. Homemade pomegranate molasses should keep for four to six months in the refrigerator.