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.
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.
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:
- Duck Breast with Pomegranate Citrus Glaze by The Kitchn
- Fesenjan Persian Chicken Stew with Walnut and Pomegranate Sauce by Simply Recipes
- Grilled Pomegranate-Glazed Chicken With Sungold Tomato-Basil Salad by Melissa Clark for The New York Times
- Muhammara-Slathered Kabobs by 101 Cookbooks
- Pomegranate Roasted Carrots by Melissa Clark for Food52
- Sweet and Sour Eggplant, Tomatoes and Chickpeas by Martha Rose Shulman for The New York Times
HOMEMADE POMEGRANATE MOLASSES RECIPE
Makes approximately 11 tablespoons (215 g)
- 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.
- Preheat your oven to 350F/180C. Chill a small plate to test the consistency later on.
- Pour pomegranate juice into a jug, add sugar and whisk until dissolved.
- 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.
- 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.
Gorgeous photos, Cenk! I’ll try this with POM 🙂
I think I saw the first picture in your instagram feed. I’ve been looking forward to this day 🙂
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…
Melissa, janan – I’m surprised POM doesn’t sell pomegranate molasses!
joey @ 80 breakfasts
I love the color!
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?
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.
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!
Meggan – You can find a detailed description in the recipe section, right after the ingredient list. Thanks a lot!
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.
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!
Mahtab – Hello. Thanks a lot for your kind words! I’ll be looking forward to your fesenjan recipe. Please share soon 🙂
What a lovely difference in the taste with the baking. I shall always follow your recipe from now onwards.
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!
Stunning color! Does anyone know where can I find a tray like this in ROME? (Italy) Thnx!
Gorgeous photos, I love the color!
Rosana @ Hot&Chilli
Oh my! It looks amazing! I am trying this recipe this week.thanks for sharing it with us. R
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.
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.
Ah, I love the saucer! So elegant and unique!
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!
love love it.
The color is amazing!
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!
That looks really delicious, and appealing to the eye
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? 🙂
Super delicious — I must give it a try!
Michelle @ Leo Sigh
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.
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.
Thank you for sharing, I cant wait to try this soon..:) do you use protection like glove when you prep?
Maria Lopez – No, there really is no need.
Drumles Den Haag
Looks a little dangerous. I think I’ll burn myself haha but I’ll try it. Thanks!
Thanks for sharing – I have 2 pompegranate bushes at home. One is a sour one and one is a sweet one.
Do you think it matters if I use the sweet one or the sour one? or both?
We normally buy this to add to “Fatoush” Lebanese salad and it is amazing. So looking forward to making my own.
Samir – We use this to add sourness so it would be wiser to use the sour one. However, it is hard to achieve a thick consistency with sour pomegranates. Maybe you can use a combination of both?
The color is stunning and like a blood. fantastic !
I use pomegranate molasses to make fresh beverages, combine it with other natural fresh juices like orange juice, mandarin or any other citrus fruit.
I like Ur site is one of my favorites. Thank you for it.
canI safely can pomegranite molasses using a water bath method?
joan vogt – I haven’t tried, but I’m sure it will be OK.
I have so many pommegranates. I made your jam recipe yesterday and it was amazing. Will try this molasses rcepie very soon. Thank you.