pomegranate molasses

Pomegranate Molasses

I’ve been thinking a lot about synergy lately. You know, how an apple is fantastic on its own but then you combine it with blackberries and a crumble topping and all of a sudden its elevated to new heights. Or turmeric, on its own is a fantastic anti-inflammatory and liver repairing herb but then if you add black pepper then all kinds of magical things happen and your body uses more of the turmeric. Or in people– I’m pretty cool on my own, but when I’m with Jam I’m slightly more adventurous and less stubborn. This is a good thing. Synergy. In some cases, things or people are fine as they are, but every now and then something comes along that helps it reach its potential.

Take pomegranates, for example. On Wednesday I was handed a big bag of pomegranates. I ate one right there, peeling off the thick skin with my fingers, and burying my face in it, pulling out the fruity seeds with my teeth. I walked around with a red mouth and nose and chin for hours before seeing myself in a mirror. And that was about it for pomegranates, for me– they’re not really the kinds of things I go out of my way to eat a million of when they’re in season (unlike peaches or apples or lemons).

I’ve been reading Ken Albala‘s new book¬†The Lost Arts of Hearth & Home: The Happy Luddite’s Guide to Domestic Self-Sufficiency. It’s a good, solid book. One that you can open to any chapter and read for a bit and have something to think about or to want to experiment with, which is what happened when I turned to the Pomegranate Molasses section. He doesn’t write recipes so much as guides, which is good because that’s generally how I interpret recipes anyway. And this guide was pretty simple: peel the pomegranate, put all the seeds in a pot, add some vanilla, some sugar, then boil down for a few hours, straining the seeds out somewhere in the middle.

The most tedious part of this process is the peeling of the pomegranates, something which, if facing a big bag full, can be somewhat daunting. I have advice: put on a movie, take pot, bag of pomegranates and a bowl for the peels to the floor in front of TV (or computer in my case), take your time. I have another piece of advice: save the peels. Chop them up into small pieces, lay them out on paper or basket until they’re totally dry, then put them in a jar with a label: POMEGRANATE PEELS: MAKE TEA FOR DIARRHEA. Because these things happen, and it’s good to be prepared…

After 3 hours you’ll have a thick, gooey, dark dark red syrup. It’s tangy and sweet and fruity and everything a pomegranate should be. You can use it in Moroccan foods, in stews as a tangy flavouring, on meats (chicken= good), drizzled over yogurt or ice cream. Endless possibilities. As far as I’m concerned, this is synergy at its best: fire, vanilla and a bit of sugar have brought out the best possible qualities of the pomegranate. It may have reached its potential. And isn’t that all any of us could ever wish for?

A note on the sheer inconvenience of peeling so many pomegranates to get so little molasses at the end and why can’t you just use bottled pomegranate juice from the store: If you are gifted a big bag of pomegranates, it’d be cruel to let them go to waste. If you’re going to go and buy pomegranates to make this, I’d just skip the peeling part entirely and use bottled juice. Try 1 tb sugar to each cup of juice.

Pomegranate Molasses

Keep in mind that these measurements are approximate- thus, if you only end up with 3/4 quart of pomegranate seeds, just go with it, reduce the amount of sugar slightly.

1 quart pomegranate seeds

2 tb sugar

1/2 vanilla bean

Put everything in a pot and bring to low heat. In a while there’ll be some liquid there. Keep cooking it till there’s lots of liquid, and then, using a food mill or a sieve and a wooden spoon, strain out all the juice, extracting as much of the flesh as you can from the seeds. Extract the vanilla bean and throw it in with the liquid. Return to the heat. There’ll be a dramatic reduction in volume and you’ll want to cry after spending so long peeling the damn things. Its ok- you don’t use very much of it at a time. Keep on very low heat for 2-3 hours, until its reduced to a thick thick syrup. Taste it. Tangy and delicious? You has molasses. Put in a jar and keep in the fridge.

  • Gwendolyn

    If you were a pomegranate, I would say you pretty much reached your potential with this post. Just imagining the beautiful red jewel tones and tangy fruity fire vanilla sticky sweetness gave me goosebumps. Bravo~

    • fairybekk

      Aw Gwendolyn, thank you sweet girl :) <3

  • http://victoryrollsandv8s.com Jen

    Love this post. For some reason it’s just soothing to read.

    Also, this recipe for pomegranate molasses looks better than the one I’ve been using, so I shall have to try it when I run out of what’s currently in the fridge!

  • Threads

    There’s a great youtube on an easy way to peel and deseed poms…. makes the whole process easy…just whack with a wooden spoon! I am off to get a bag of poms now…. as soon as Frankenstorm is over!

  • http://madcrowherbals.com/ Michael Blackmore

    What a great idea! I have to try that some time. Maybe with sucanat instead.

  • Beth Al-Shamasawi

    My husband is from Iraq & he said there is a recipe using the dried peels (ground up) for stomach upset . Also he said eating the pith is excellent for ulcer & tummy problems in general . The dried peel is ground up & rubbed onto the gums as well & it toughens the gums to hold teeth & resist infection etc …..

    • fairybekk

      Thanks Beth- that’s really interesting!

  • Irened

    Pomegranates are so yummy and full of antioxidants. Thanks for the guidance! I can taste how yummy this can be on yogurt.

  • http://mamarosemary.com Angela

    Made some yesterday. Smelled amazing while it was cooking and tasted even more amazing. The vanilla bean added a suprising rich deep tastiness!

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  • VeronicaV

    Hi there. This is pretty late, but here’s a good video on easy peeling. Watch at about 4 minutes in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbreHluo6yk

    I used to have them growing at the house, and didn’t know that when they split, they were ripe. At that point, we’d leave them for the critters. I wish I had known. My mom used to send me the dried peels when I was abroad. She always swore by them, when you have a dry, irritable throat and a cough that wouldn’t go away. She’d make a tea out of the peels and treats them like little bits of gold. Love your blog, thank you.

  • Mackenzie

    I have the solution to your problem! Cut the pom in half, then kinda crack each half by stressing the edges just enough that you feel the pith creak. Then hold it red side up in your hand over a bowl and smack the shit out of it with a wooden spoon. All the seeds will come out! It totally works. Thanks for the recipe! This sounds delicious!!