Alibi V.27 No.30 • July 26-Aug 1, 2018 

Know Your Ingredients

What is pomegranate molasses?

And what should I do with it?

Pomegranate mollases at Talin Market
Pomegranate mollases at Talin Market
Photo by Robin Babb

Perhaps you’ve seen it while browsing the shelves of a Middle Eastern market or in the ingredients list for a recipe you’ve been meaning to try. Pomegranate molasses, an ingredient often found in Middle Eastern cooking, is increasingly available and beloved in the US these days, and it’s easy to see why. This sweet and tart fruit syrup adds a layer of depth to savory dishes and nice acidic notes in desserts—its taste is often compared to that of balsamic vinegar. It’s a versatile ingredient that could easily be a flavor-boosting staple in everyone’s pantry. Let’s find out a little more about this stuff.

What is it?

Pomegranate molasses is not actually molasses at all. It’s pomegranate juice that’s cooked down or reduced to a thick, dark syrup—just like making a vinegar reduction. A little sugar and lemon juice is often added for flavor and to help preserve it, but it is certainly sweet enough on its own.

Where can I get it?

In Albuquerque, you can easily find pomegranate molasses at Talin Market, Bombay Spice and at Cafe Istanbul, the Middle Eastern market and café. You can also order it online from persianbasket.com or from the Jeff Bezos everything store. The most widely available brands are Cortas and Sadaf, and both are quite good. In stores, a 10oz bottle will cost you somewhere between $2 and $7.

How should I use it?

Pomegranate molasses is traditionally called for in fesenjan, an Iranian stew of chicken or ground meat and walnuts, and in many Turkish pilaf dishes. For a non-traditional but very tasty drink, I like to mix a teaspoon of it with sparkling water, perhaps with some booze involved. You could also add some to a vinaigrette for your salad, or a marinade for chicken or beef. Blend it into fruit purée and freeze it into popsicles. Add a spoonful or two to your cakes and shortbreads for an unexpected sour note in your dessert. Pour it on top of ice cream or an ice box pie. Get wild.

Can I make it at home?

You sure can, and it’s very easy, according to an Alton Brown recipe from foodnetwork.com. Combine 4 cups pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once all the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until this has reduced to about 1 cup of thick, syrupy liquid—about 70 minutes. Allow to cool completely, transfer to a glass jar and store in the fridge for up to 6 months.

What dishes do you make with pomegranate molasses? And what other ingredients would you like to see us write about in this section? Drop us a line at food@alibi.com.