My husband and I moved into our small countryside finca about a year ago, with high hopes for its moderate garden. We have a large fig tree out back, and lemons, olives, oranges, loquats, and pomegranates in front. So far, the lemons have been decent; the loquats and oranges pretty non-existent; olives of the Mallorquin variety- extremely bitter; and the figs, with the exception of a precious few, ridden with wasp maggots. But the pomegranates, oh the pomegranates. The harvest has been big and good.
We’ve enjoyed the fruits alone, with quinoa, atop salads, and mixed into smoothies and yogurt. Over the weekend, with some time on my hands, I made an attempt at pomegranate molasses. The molasses keeps for several months refrigerated and can be used like any other sweetened reduction – on meats, cheeses, breads, or in marinades.
12 medium sized pomegranates (yields approximately 4 cups pomegranate juice)
juice from 1/3 of a lemon (~2 to 3 tablespoons juice)
1/2 cup sugar
My helper for the day (Dee – thanks!) and I semi-laboriously seeded a dozen pomegranates to yield the necessary juice. Though still in need of some studying and practice, I found that the pomegranates seed a bit easier when cut in half along the horizontal rather than vertical axis. And there’s probably another trick besides simply inverting the peel.
The fruit can then be juiced by placing the fleshy seeds into a food processor and pulsing the blender three to four times, straining and separating the mixture afterwards. Be careful not to over blend as the tannins from the seeds may add extra bitterness.
In a medium saucepan, heat juice and other ingredients at medium/high temperature until sugars are dissolved, stirring occasionally. Reduce temperature to medium/low and heat until the mixture is thickened and reduced to one cup. The time in which this happens will vary. Though an hour or so should suffice, on my unpredictable stovetop, it took nearly two hours. Allow the mixture to cool, then transfer to a sterilized jar and refrigerate.
Giving it a quick taste, the molasses was thick and very sweet, despite a reduced amount of sugar added, with a meager hint of pomegranate tartness. This can probably be attributed to the fresh fruit used, rather than bottled pomegranate juice. As my preferences lean towards less sweetness, the amount of sugar will be cut even further for next time.
The following evening, I marinated four thin cut pork chops with three big spoonfuls of the molasses, chopped garlic, olive oil, and rosemary sea salt and pepper. After giving the chops a quick sear, they were thrown into the dutch oven, along with some veggies, for a short cook and a quick dinner. The molasses gave a great sweet and tangy flavor to the meat (similar to Chinese sweet/sour sauce), especially with an added sticky drizzle after cooking. As the sugars caramelize quite easily with higher heats, evidenced by a gooey coating on the bottom of my dutch oven, for barbecued meat, I’d recommend a diluted marinade and a final glaze towards the end of grilling… my next experiment.