Homemade Pomegranate Molasses

April 12th, 2013  | Category: Fruit, Preserving, Turkish Cuisine, Vegetarian

Pomegranate Molasses

Pomegranate molasses, which is made by reducing freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice into a thick, sour and sticky syrup, isn’t really molasses. It is simply reduced pomegranate juice. And if you’re adding sugar, you can even call it an extremely sour pomegranate jam. Pomegranate jam – one that is prepared by just pomegranate juice and sugar – doesn’t thicken that much, so you may as well call it a pomegranate syrup. So, why, oh why, is it called pomegranate molasses? Probably because the supermarket variety is quite dark and thick, just like molasses. But I’m not here to talk about the supermarket variety.

Here in Turkey, we call it “nar ekşisi” (gnar eck-she-c), which translates into “pomegranate sour”. The real deal doesn’t have any added sugar and isn’t as thick as molasses. An almost-inedible pomegranate variety called “cin narı” is used and the resulting liquid is a bit cloudy, extremely sour and dark-pink juice. I use pomegranate molasses frequently in salads and prefer a sticky texture so that it clings to leafy ingredients. The added sugar and the fact that I didn’t use the extremely-sour variety of pomegranates makes this by no means an authentic pomegranate molasses by Turkish standards, but I’m not here to talk about authenticity either.

What I’m here to talk about is a different way to prepare homemade pomegranate molasses. A way that traps more of the flavorful aromatic compounds in the pomegranate juice than reducing it on the stove top: Baking it!

Over the past three and half years, I must have juiced at least two hundred pounds of pomegranates for the recipes that’ll go into my book. 200! And all by hand, I must add. After I wrapped up the last of the pomegranate recipes, I had about 2 cups of juice left, so I wanted to try something that I haven’t done with pomegranate juice before.

Pomegranate Juice

I added some sugar, whisked until dissolved, poured it in a half-sheet pan and baked it! Well, actually the right word is “overbaked” it. Once at room temperature, it was impossible to pour the thickened syrup, but it was more flavorful than I imagined pomegranate molasses could be. So yes, I bought another 15 pounds of pomegranates, juiced them by hand, baked half of it and cooked the other half on the stove top to see the difference.

The cooking/baking time was more or less the same, but the baked version tasted far more like freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice.

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses

The recipe is pretty straightforward, but one thing to keep an eye on is the consistency. Pomegranate molasses will thicken further in the refrigerator (in fact, it will take quite a while for it to reach the tip of the bottle when you try to pour), so what you should be looking for is a thickness that resembles a simple sugar syrup rather than a thick, lava-like molasses consistency. To make sure you’ve got it right, you can chill a small plate in the freezer and check the consistency close to the end. The size of the pan will affect baking time. I’ve used a half-sheet pan. If you use a larger pan, it will reduce more quickly and reach the desired consistency earlier.

I’ll be posting a beloved Turkish salad recipe, which is the first thing that comes to mind the instant you say pomegranate molasses. Before then, put your homemade pomegranate molasses into good use with these great recipes:

HOMEMADE POMEGRANATE MOLASSES RECIPE

Makes approximately 11 tablespoons (215 g)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (960 g) pomegranate juice, preferably freshly-squeezed*
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar

* It really depends on how juicy your pomegranates are, but you’ll need about 7 pounds of pomegranates to obtain 4 cups of freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice. I prefer to juice the pomegranates by hand instead of using a juice press as the liquid from the seeds and membrane adds bitterness. Here’s how I do it: Place a large bowl under the sink (for easy wash up), cut the pomegranates in half (into quarters if you have small hands) and while squeezing the pomegranate with one hand, press with your fingers inside the pomegranate with the other hand (the cut side will face the bowl) and extract as much juice as possible. Most of the seeds will fall into the juice. Pass it through a sieve into another bowl and squeeze the seeds in the sieve with your hands.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F/180C. Chill a small plate to test the consistency later on.
  2. Pour pomegranate juice into a jug, add sugar and whisk until dissolved.
  3. Place a half-sheet pan in the middle rack of your preheated oven, pour the juice in and bake until it’s as thick as simple syrup, about 75-80 minutes. It will thicken further as it cools, so do not let it get as thick as molasses. To check the consistency, pour a teaspoon of it on the chilled plate and let cool in the freezer for 2 minutes. If it runs very slowly when you tilt the plate, it’s done. If not, bake for another 5 minutes and repeat the test.
  4. Pour it into a sterilized bottle (or jar), close the lid and keep in the refrigerator. It will keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 months.
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Comments

  1. 1 - avril on April 13th, 2013

    Stunning color!

  2. 2 - Melissa on April 14th, 2013

    Gorgeous photos, Cenk! I’ll try this with POM :)

  3. 3 - Rechelle on April 14th, 2013

    I think I saw the first picture in your instagram feed. I’ve been looking forward to this day :)

  4. 4 - janan sozen on April 15th, 2013

    POM came to me in an instant too, am running to the store, am I a day late ?! Am so interested as often dilute the store purchased nar eksisi, have to praise your phonetics…

  5. 5 - Cenk on April 15th, 2013

    Melissa, janan – I’m surprised POM doesn’t sell pomegranate molasses!

  6. 6 - joey @ 80 breakfasts on April 16th, 2013

    I love the color!

  7. 7 - itir on April 17th, 2013

    Dear Cenk,amazing pictures as always. One question: You say “..you can chill a small plate in the freezer and check the consistency close to the end.” Can you please explain what you mean by checking the consistency to the end?

  8. 8 - Cenk on April 18th, 2013

    itir – The pomegranate molasses gets thicker as it cools, so to see how thick it will get you chill a plate in the freezer, drop a teaspoon of it on the chilled plate and check the consistency.

  9. 9 - Meggan on April 18th, 2013

    Cenk… May I ask what method you use to juice pomegranates?

    Am in love with your gorgeous site and beautifully written words and hope that your book will be available in the US!

  10. 10 - Cenk on April 19th, 2013

    Meggan – You can find a detailed description in the recipe section, right after the ingredient list. Thanks a lot!

  11. 11 - Sarah Jirik on April 22nd, 2013

    It’s fabulous over chevre on crackers, or baked with goat cheese and walnuts in puff pastry. Quality of the supermarket brands is suspect, home made looks wonderful.

  12. 12 - Mahtab on April 25th, 2013

    Cenk,

    I discovered your blog 2 days ago on an old post on David Lebovitz’s site and have been hooked! Between your stuninng photography and mouth-watering treats I can’t stop browsing!

    My background is Iranian and I am very familiar with pomegranate molasses. My grandma always brings some for us when she visits, as it is the key ingredient in fesenjan (my favourite persian dish!!). I can’t wait to try making my own, though I suspect the quality of the pommegranates we get in Ottawa are nothing like what you have in Turkey.

    Thanks for sharing such wonderful recipes, photos, and stories with us!

  13. 13 - Cenk on April 25th, 2013

    Mahtab – Hello. Thanks a lot for your kind words! I’ll be looking forward to your fesenjan recipe. Please share soon :)

  14. 14 - Kamal on April 29th, 2013

    What a lovely difference in the taste with the baking. I shall always follow your recipe from now onwards.

  15. 15 - Renate on May 6th, 2013

    This looks wonderful, I must try it! Sadly, pomegranates are quite expensive here in northern Europe (especially since I prefer to buy organic). I might try making half the recipe.
    And then on to one of the recipes you so thoughtfully provided!

  16. 16 - Sezgi Uygur on May 9th, 2013

    Stunning color! Does anyone know where can I find a tray like this in ROME? (Italy) Thnx!

  17. 17 - juan gomez on June 15th, 2013

    Gorgeous photos, I love the color!

  18. 18 - Rosana @ Hot&Chilli on August 4th, 2013

    Oh my! It looks amazing! I am trying this recipe this week.thanks for sharing it with us. R

  19. 19 - Chrisssygee on September 8th, 2013

    You mentioned at the beginning of the article that traditionally it is made with no sugar. My family is allergic to processed sugar. How would I make it without it, or do you think it would work with rice syrup instead. I am lucky enough to have a pomegranite tree so would love to use them more.

  20. 20 - Cenk on September 16th, 2013

    Chrisssygee – You just don’t add sugar and follow the same steps. It will not be as thick as the one in the photo. Rice syrup might work.

  21. 21 - Dubai Model on October 4th, 2013

    Ah, I love the saucer! So elegant and unique!

  22. 22 - lucyfalls on December 14th, 2013

    I’ve been meaning to try making pomegranate molasses and I like the idea of baking it. I’ll be giving this a try; thanks for the idea!

  23. 23 - eni on February 5th, 2014

    love love it.

  24. 24 - Aqiyl Aniys on March 17th, 2014

    The color is amazing!

  25. 25 - LeahEtn on April 24th, 2014

    Never thought about making molasse from a pomegranate, but the recipe seems great and this fruit is so tasty, would love to try this soon!

  26. 26 - Martin on June 5th, 2014

    That looks really delicious, and appealing to the eye

  27. 27 - gabi@thenomadicfamily on June 29th, 2014

    looks really beautiful, i had tried it in Turkey and it was just amazing, too much delicious. thanks for sharing the recipe dear :)
    would you like to read about our Experiences with Turkish food too? :)
    http://thenomadicfamily.com/2014/06/buttered-corn-parks-passports-turkish-koka-kola-istanbul-apartment-home-holiday-lettings-pashas-house-turkey/

  28. 28 - Lindsay on July 10th, 2014

    Super delicious — I must give it a try!

  29. 29 - Michelle @ Leo Sigh on July 12th, 2014

    Never heard of pomegranate molasses but love pomegranates so this is a ‘must try’. Lovely photos too :)

    Now off to read more. Your blog is gorgeous.

  30. 30 - Daniel on July 27th, 2014

    To check consistency, I put what needs to be tested in a teaspoon (maybe 1/3 full), then run an ice cube under the underside back and forth. With the ice melting, it takes on the shape of the spoon and cools even faster. Then I either check for drip consistency, or also for mouth feel and taste. Works also well for jams and jellies.

  31. 31 - Maria Lopez on August 19th, 2014

    Thank you for sharing, I cant wait to try this soon..:) do you use protection like glove when you prep?

  32. 32 - Cenk on August 22nd, 2014

    Maria Lopez – No, there really is no need.

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