What is Pomegranate Molasses?
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.
I read an article about the health benefits of pomegranate. It said that pomegranates improve our immune system, it lowers cholesterol and balances blood sugar. It's also good for our heart and protects us from cancer.
Especially pomegranate juice and pomegranate molasses are said to protect our blood vessels and circulatory system. Molasses is recommended if you have low energy, high blood pressure and get sick often. Since it had antibacterial effects, it will also reduce infections and it's said to be good for skin too!
I have never tried pomegranate juice before but I'm going to pick up some pomegranate juice and molasses this week after hearing about all these benefits.
Pomegranate is the national symbol of Armenia. Armenia produces a lot of pomegranate and pomegranate molasses! In small towns and villages, pomegranate molasses are still very much made like wine is made in Italy.
First the pomegranates are picked, split open and the seeds removed. Then someone who is heavy and strong steps on the seeds to squeeze the juice out. Don't worry! There is a sheet of film between the feet and the seeds!
Then, a big fire is made and the juice is placed on top and boiled for hours until it becomes syrup like. It's taken off the fire, cooled down and finally bottled.
If you ever get the chance to visit Armenia, I hope you get the opportunity to watch this process. It's so interesting and fun! If not, then make sure to pick up some molasses to take back home with you. I think Armenia has the best pomegranate molasses in the world!
Back home, we call this pomegranate sour because it has a sour flavor. We mainly use pomegranate molasses as a substitute for lemon juice or vinegar in salads. It's also used for a food called "cig kofte" which is a type of meatball that's made with meat, bulgur wheat and pepper paste. It's delicious when it's placed in pita bread and topped with lettuce and pomegranate molasses.
I have never made the molasses myself, I usually buy it at the store. The problem we have here is that there are a lot of fake versions of the molasses on sale, especially at open markets and farmer's markets. Pomegranate is not very cheap and a lot of it is required to make a full bottle of the molasses. To make it cheaper, some people boil grape syrup with lemon salt to get a similar flavor and sell it labeled as pomegranate molasses. But it's easy to tell because it's always cheaper than the original.
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