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What we call various dishes and foodstuffs is just a matter of fashion.
Before Yotam Ottolenghi came to reign the culinary world of aubergine and pomegranate, we’d call this concoction syrup. But now it sounds wrong, like what the great-granny would make from redcurrants in the garden, in quaint bottles covered with squares of muslin secured with a ribbon tied around the bottle’s neck. Or Hercule Poirot’s tipple of choice. Or cough medicine. Or maple.
But I have to disappoint Yotam’s fans (though nothing against the guy, God forbid, he’s only a bit fussy to my taste): molasses is the by-product of cane sugar and has nothing to do with fruit, apart from similar texture. But along this line of thinking, shall we call it pomegranate snot then? It is incidentally exactly the same as treacle which is the British expression (Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie lived in the treacle well, not molasses) but ‘treacle’ doesn’t sound quite as sexy, does it?
Technically, this is not even syrup as that means a sugar solution in water and mine features very little sugar, relatively speaking. What it – technically, scientifically and semantically – should be called is pomegranate concentrate, reduction, cordial or squash. But would anyone know what I’m talking about if I started saying ‘pomegranate cordial’ all the time? Would they heck.
It is powerful stuff though and works a treat as meat glaze, acidity provider in dressings and sauces, dropped on cereal and dribbled over ice cream. Even if calling it molasses is a thorough misnomer.
pomegranate molassesServings: ½ cupTime: about 2 hours
- 4 large pomegranates
- 50g (1/3 cup) sugar
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
1. The best method to release the seeds from a pomegranate is to cut the fruit horizontally in half; hold each half cut side down over a large bowl and whack it with a wooden spoon. The seeds – technically they are called arils – will just pop out.
2. Do the same with all the halves. Pick out bigger bits of the white pith but don’t worry about the smaller ones.
3. The main task is to separate the arils from the white pips. If you have a food mill, it’s best for this purpose – and it’s a very useful cheap piece of kit anyway.
4. If you haven’t got one, whizz the seeds briefly in a blender or food processor, then pour into a colander lined with cheesecloth and sieve the juice, squeezing the cheesecloth to get out as much as you can. Pour the juice to a medium sized pan – you’ll probably have about ½ litre (2 cups) of juice.
5. Add the sugar and lemon juice and bring it to the boil. Simmer over low heat for an hour, swirling the molasses round the pan every now and then to check it isn’t burning. When it looks much more viscous, coats the back of a cold spoon and has reduced by three quarters of the volume, it’s ready.
6. Decant the molasses to a clean bottle or jar. Let it cool down, then keep in the fridge; it will be good for a couple of weeks. Use the molasses as a glaze for meat, drizzle over cereal, cake, yoghurt or ice cream or stir into drinks or salad dressing.