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January 6, 2009

Pomegranate molasses (Recipe: pomegranate snow swirls)

Pomegranateswirl

My Cousin Martin travels the world to search out all sorts of foods and kitchen tools for The Perfect Pantry.

Well, maybe that's not his only reason for traveling, but he does bring me wonderful things. Wooden spoons from everywhere, and ravioli cutters and gnocchi paddles. Iranian saffron. Tahitian vanilla beans and Mexican vanilla extract. Cookbooks from Costa Rica and Mongolia. Silicone baking sheets from France, years before Silpats were common here.

I've grown accustomed to these treats from far-off lands. So, when Cousin Martin unveiled his latest gift, I looked at the bottle and said oh, ho hum, more Tahitian vanilla.

But no, this was better. Much better.

The little bottle that once held precious vanilla extract from Tahiti now contained something infinitely more interesting: homemade pomegranate molasses, from his own kitchen.

Pomegranatemolasses1

Pomegranate molasses, also called pomegranate syrup, is a traditional Middle Eastern condiment made from the sugar in the juice extracted from fresh pomegranates. Though the fruit is native to Iran, most pomegranate molasses are bottled in Lebanon. Thick and syrupy in texture, pomegranate molasses (not molasses, really, but with the same consistency) provides a sweet-tart citrusy flavor.

Try it in sweet or savory dishes: drizzled over ice cream, in beef short ribs, pomegranate-olive jam, eggplant-lentil stew, marinades, cupcakes, braised pomegranate chicken, or honey-roasted sweet potatoes.

If you can't find pomegranate molasses in your market, you can buy it online, or make your own from pomegranate juice.

Cousin Martin's pomegranate molasses is truly a labor of love, so I asked him to describe how he made it:

I bought a case of pomegranates at Costco and then had to figure out what to do with them. I went online to learn how to "juice" them. A few sites said to halve or quarter the fruits and put them in a big bowl full of water. Gently separate the seeds from the skin/membrane. When done, the membrane floats to the top and the seeds sink. Skim off the membrane and drain the seeds. Put in a blender and whiz for a second or two to just break the seeds. Transfer to a sieve and push the juice out with a wooden spoon, discarding the residue in the strainer. Each pomegranate yields a little less than a cup.  Getting 24 ounces (because I used an old wine bottle to put the juice in) took about 15 minutes and very cold hands!

Here's an easier way: quarter or halve the pomegranates, and put them into a manual orange squeezer. I have an old heavy clunky metal one from Mexico that is 25 years old.  I dug it out of the closet and used it, squeezing pomegranate halves. This method was less efficient in terms of juice, as it left some of the seeds unbroken, but it was MUCH faster.

To make the molasses, I placed about 2 cups of the juice in a Corning Ware dish (I was afraid that metal might react to the acid in the juice) and gently simmered the juice over low heat until it became the consistency of syrup.

Of the many bits of lore surrounding pomegranates, my favorite is this: In ancient times, a Berber woman would draw a circle on the ground and drop a pomegranate into the center. The number of seeds that spilled out predicted the number of children she would bear.

I like Cousin Martin's idea better.

Pomegranateswirl1

Pomegranate snow swirls

A great do-it-yourself activity for your dinner guests; everyone can make his or her own decoration for bowls of store-bought frozen yogurt or ice cream. If you don't have fresh, clean snow, make these with either shave ice, if you have a handy Hawaiian shave ice gizmo, or with ice you've crushed in the blender. Store leftover pomegranate syrup in the refrigerator, and reheat gently to desired consistency.

Ingredients

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (homemade, or store-bought)

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water, and bring to a boil over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat, and carefully add the pomegranate molasses. Return pot to the heat, reduce to low. As the water begins to evaporate, it will bubble, and bubble some more.

Pomegranatemolasses2

After 1 minute, gently swirl the pan a bit. After another minute, stir the syrup to check the consistency. It should be thick, but not yet beginning to brown, and it should dribble off a spoon.

Remove the pot from the heat while you prepare your snow (if you're using real snow outdoors, you should do this before making the syrup). Either tamp down an area of clean snow, or fill a rimmed sheet pan with packed snow. Or make shave ice in your blender, and pack it into a sheet pan so you have a cold, flat surface.

Pomegranateswirl3

Using a spoon, drizzle the pomegranate syrup over the snow, in any pattern. If your syrup has not gotten too caramelized, it will be easier to control. If it has, you'll end up with some funky drizzles like Ted's, because I overcooked my syrup by just a few seconds. But there's nothing wrong with funky drizzles.

When they've set, which is almost instantaneous, lift the swirls from the snow, and arrange them on bowls of vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Muhammara
Pomegranate fish
Pineapple-fish curry
Grilled peaches with balsamic and granola

Comments

That is so pretty!

wow!!! how neat is that... :) happy new year!!! :)

Lydia, I have never used pomegranate molasses, but I have seen it for sale here. Maybe I'll buy it next time!

wow...that is cool stuff Lydia!!!!
mmm....

I've been looking for Pomegranate syrup for a chicken recipe, think i'll make my own now! thanks.

That is so cool!!! Darn Texas! ;)

ohh that is so cool! something that soeren will freak for. we have the perfect weather for this too - fresh snow all weekend long and artic temperatures of -20 C!!

Great tips on Pomegranate molasses, origins, how to make your own and uses. A very resourceful post, Lydia.

OH!! Just like sugar-on-snow made with maple syrup!! Sounds like a delicious alternative.

Looks delicious--and I love the use of snow! Now, if only the snow will come back... :)

What a great cousin to have! I love the snow idea. We don't get any snow in SoCal, but I will save this idea for a ski trip! Fun!

LOL, I think we all need a Cousin Martin!

The snow swirls are simply gorgeous!
I have a bottle of pom molasses that has been sitting unused in my pantry for months- thanks for reminding me of wonderful ways to use it.

Better late than never: Happy New Year, Lydia :)

I remember reading a book where the little girl in it did the same thing in winter. Looks great!

I so love pomegranate in just everything,loved the idea of pomegranate ice swirls!! Too bad I'm missing some snow!

I love Pomegranates! The snow swirls are so cool. Too bad we don't get snow where I live. At least I can make the pomegranate molasses and enjoy it. Thank you for sharing.

Happy New Year, Lydia

I have tried various recipes with pomegranate molasses. My favorite is the muhammara, which you listed. Good item to revisit!

Wahhh, no snow here! I'd love to try that!

There's a delicious sounding and very attractive garnish! I need to try pom molasses...I always shied away from it since I imagined harvesting all the little seeds...but a citrus juicer sounds like it would be a lot more efficient (and that's something I already have)! And good way to make the most of the weather

I have a bottle of pomegranate molasses in the cupboard - but have not really known what to do with it. Thanks for the great tips!
Ps, your snow sculptures are very much like what some Canadians make with real, thick maple syrup. Yum.

How pretty - love this idea. Happy new year Lydia!

oooh aren't you lucky to get all those treats from faraway lands. I would love to try my hand using Tahitian vanilla and Iranian saffron.
what a gorgeous photo!!

Those pomegranate snow swirls look like fun.

ou la la! pomegranate molasses. So interesting! Also would love to win the kitchen scale...I've been hoping for one to improve my baking!

normally, I love living in California, especially around this time of year, but I would give anything for a backyard of snow to make this lovely dish! Great idea, Cousin Martin :-)

Seriously awesome...OMG just completely original...love it, love it.

So I'm not the only one who saw the snow swirl and immediately thought maple syrup! I actually tried it once, but it didn't work very well. May be the syrup was too hot?

Gee, I wish I had a cousin Martin! These are lovely and a good way to use up that pomegranate molasses that's be collecting dust in the UtHC pantry. Thanks Lydia!
Happy New Year!

Masterpiece pomegranate! :)

Do you have to worry about pomegranate molasses staining (like the seeds do)?

Everyone: For all that I'm willing to share with you, I'm not willing to share my Cousin Martin. He is one of a kind! And, though I always offer to send ingredients to any reader who can't find them locally, I regret that I am unable to ship snow to those of you lucky enough to be living in warmer climes.

Pauline, Natashya, Sandra: of course, maple syrup was the inspiration for this recipe. My Canadian husband was happy to oblige.

Nupur, Aimee: thank you so much! Wishing you a happy new year, too.

Leslie, great question. Yes indeed, pomegranate molasses will stain.

Wow that looks like so much fun.

Those swirls are so cool. If only we got enough snow here to have kitchen fun with the fluffy white stuff.

Much fun. We used to do that all the time with maple syrup when I was a kid. I like the idea of the molasses as well.

Looks like fun! I always buy a pomegrante with the intent of doing something "nifty" with it...but usually end up staring blankly at it and then picking it apart over the course of a few days.

pomegranates are the new wonder fruit (one of 'em, anyway), and pom molasses is the new balsamic vinegar.

anything with pomegranate is a go for me :)

there's nothing i don't like about this post. now it's just got to snow here...maybe tomorrow, actually!

Nate, I believe that is prophetic!

Everyone: we're expecting another 8 inches of snow here tomorrow. Wish I could share it with all of you...

I need a cousin Martin! Thanks for the shout-out too!

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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