Make-It-At-Home Series : Pomegranate Syrup/ Molasses (GF, V)
I was recently going through some Persian recipes and I came across a couple that I wanted to try out. While I had most of the ingredients on hand, there was one ingredient mentioned, Pomegrante molasses, that I had never seen or used before. This is an ingredient that is obviously specific to certain cuisines, and not something I was likely to find in the stores in my part of the world.
So I decided to a little research into Pomegranate molasses. It turns out that it is a barely sweet, slightly tart, thick and sticky syrup used to flavour Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is known as "Nar Ekşisi" in Turkish,"Rob-e-Anar" in Iran,"Nasrahab" in Georgian and "Rebb el-Rumman" in Arabic.
One thing I have discovered is that many exotic or cuisine specific ingredients are quite easy to make at home, and this Pomegranate syrup is no different and can be made by reducing Pomegranate juice and a little sugar.
So that’s what I did, made my own batch of Pomegranate syrup and believe me when I say that it takes very little effort. Pomegranates are available almost the year round at my local market, and it’s also a fruit I love. Apart from being beautiful and jewel like in appearance, Pomegranate arils add a lovely crunch and burst of sweetness to any dish.
A lot of people will suggest that one Pomegranate will give you one cup of juice, but this is not a rule that’s written in stone. It really depends on the size of the Pomegranates and how juicy they are. Then there a few different methods of supposedly the "right way" to cutting open and removing the arils. As far as I am concerned the way that works best for you is the right one.
I find it easy to remove the arils from the Pomegranate, make sure there are no bits of membrane or peel in it, and then run them in the chutney jar (smallest jar) of my blender on low speed in a couple of bursts. This ensures that the flesh loosens up without breaking the seeds. If the seeds break they will add a very unattractive bitterness to your syrup. Then press the pulp through a sieve and you have Pomegranate juice ready to be cooked into syrup. Look for the deep red variety of Pomegranates if you can find them to make this syrup, although I understand that traditionally, the syrup is made from a variety of very sour Pomegranates.
The 4 cups of pomegrante juice mentioned in the recipe is just an indication, and I would suggest that it would a good idea to double the quantity as you will end up with about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of Pomegranate syrup. This should keep in the fridge for a couple of months. Pomegranate syrup isn’t meant to be particularly sweet so adjust the sugar to taste, especially if you’re lucky to find really sweet Pomegranates in your local market.
So what can use your Pomegranate Syrup in? Apart from using to flavour Middle Eastern dishes, you can use it in salad dressings, as pancake syrup, in drinks, to flavour dips, as glaze for baked/ roasted/ grilled vegetables like carrots, or serve with desserts like cheesecake, panna cotta or ice-cream.
One salad that this syrup is used in is the Turkish salad, Gavurdaği Salatasi.
- Put the juice and the sugar in a thick walled or non-stick pot/ pan and stir well. Bring to a boil, and turn down the heat to medium low. The juice will keep forming a pinkish froth. Simmer and let this cook, uncovered, until the juice has reduced to about 1/4th in volume (about 1 cup).
- The juice should be a little thick now. Do not cook further because this syrup thickens further when it cools down and solidify when refrigerated and will become difficult to pour. What you want is a very thin honey-like consistency which will become like thick honey when cool and refrigerated.
- Transfer to a sterilized jar and store in the refrigerator where it should keep for 2 to 3 months. This recipe makes approximately 1 cup of Pomegranate syrup/ molasses.