Pomegranate molasses is a Persian ingredient, which is most often used to enhance savoury dishes with fruity flavours.
What is pomegranate molasses?
Pomegranate molasses is a thick syrup with a dark grapey colour. As with many Persian ingredients, it’s most often used to enhance savoury dishes with fruity flavours. What makes pomegranate molasses that bit more exciting though is its tangy, almost citric, bite meaning that the flavours it introduces to dishes are more like the sweet-sourness of preserved lemons or even tamarind, rather than the fruity-sweetness of sultanas and prunes.
What’s the history behind pomegranates?
The pomegranate is an ancient fruit with a rich and chequered history. It’s native to Asia Minor, and crops up in Greek Mythology – it’s the food that broke Persephone the Goddess of Spring’s fast, forcing her back to Hades for the long winter months. Many also think that it was in fact the pomegranate, also known as a ‘punic apple’ which tempted Adam and Eve in Eden.
Many think it was the pomegranate, also known as a ‘punic apple’ which tempted Adam and Eve in Eden
The pomegranate is mentioned in the Qu’ran and the Torah, and whole fruits have even been found preserved in Ancient Egyptian burial chambers. The fruit was also traded along the Silk Route – still, one of the most prolific pomegranate orchards is in the Afghan city of Kandahar. Though now pomegranates are harvested all round the world, best suited to the dry climates of Arizona, the Mediterranean and the Maharashtra state of India.
How is pomegranate molasses made?
Pomegranate molasses is made from reducing fresh pomegranate juice which intensifies the fruit’s natural flavours. It’s not hard to make at home, but with the cost of shipping fresh pomegranate juice to the UK, it’s more cost-effective to buy it ready-reduced as a syrup. When scouring supermarket shelves for pomegranate molasses in the past, many may have mistakenly picked up a bottle of grenadine instead. But the pink bar syrup used to flavour cocktails is a very different ingredient, and is best kept to a Tequila Sunrise – as the sweet, sweet flavours aren’t suited to savoury cooking.
If you’ve got a little pomegranate molasses left over at home, or you’re nervous about committing to a bottle, then don’t worry – you’re not alone
Although pomegranate molasses is a versatile ingredient, just one little look in online cooking forums show that lots of people are at a loss as to what to do with the “leftover pomegranate molasses” in their pantry. So if you’ve got a little left over at home, or you’re nervous about committing to a bottle, then don’t worry – you’re not alone. Use it as an excuse to get experimental. The thick, fluid consistency of pomegranate molasses means that it can easily be incorporated into marinades, dressings, cake mixes and drinks. Here are some ideas.
Exciting recipes using pomegranate molasses
The tangy, citrus notes in pomegranate molasses balance the sweet creaminess of ice cream. When mixed with cream, the ice-cream gets caramel hues. Sprinkle on some extra pomegranate seeds for vibrant colour contrast and a crunchy pop.
Tabbouleh is a traditional salad across the Middle East which is traditionally made mainly with herbs and a little bulgar wheat. We’ve added extra grains to make it more substantial, and a sticky pomegranate molasses dressing to add a sweet kick to the zingy salad.
This shredded chicken stew is the perfect sharing dish to serve as part of a meze. A walnut paste is made by combining crushed walnuts with chicken stock and pomegranate molasses. This gives the dish a richness and subtle tang.
Maftoul - giant cous cous - is a wonderful base for adding vegetables, herbs and spices. Here we’ve added a balance of sweet, salty and tangy flavours to create a great all-round salad. A pomegranate molasses dressing (made by mixing molasses with olive oil and orange juice) adds a little sharpness to the soft grain.
What are the different pomegranate molasses I can buy?
Pomegranate molasses – or pomegranate syrup – has a fruity sweetness that's countered by a lovely, sharp tart flavour.
This Middle Eastern storecupboard staple is also known as rob-e Anar or dibs rumman. This brand of pomegranate molasses combines concentrated natural pomegranate juice (70%) and sugar (30%) for a sweet syrup. Great for drizzling over salty cheese like halloumi and feta.
Mymouné’s pomegranate molasses is made with 100% pure pomegranates. The pure, thick syrup can act as a sweet marinade for duck, or mixed with olive oil for a tangy salad dressing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I make my own pomegranate molasses?
You can make your own molasses by making a syrup with pomegranate juice, lemon juice and caster sugar.
What is a good substitute for pomegranate molasses?
Since pomegranate molasses is both sweet and tart it can be difficult to find an exact flavour replacement. We'd recommend using a little lemon and water, then adding honey until you get your desired amount of sweetness. You can also use other fruit syrups such as grenadine or cassis but you might find them too sweet, again we'd recommend mixing in a little lemon.
How do I store my pomegranate molasses?
Pomegranate molasses can be stored in a cool dark place and consumed within 12 months of opening. However, we'd recommend always checking your packaging to see what the brand recommends.