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Pomegranates can add Mediterranean touch year-round

Pomegranates are in season now. Making molasses from the juice saves their wonderful flavor for months. (Photos:
Debbie Arrington)

Recipe: Pomegranate molasses a versatile way to preserve flavor

In Northern California, this is pomegranate season and, judging by my tree, this could be a bountiful year.

I have a single Wonderful pomegranate tree, a variety that repeatedly lives up to its name. And this year, it yielded dozens of softball-size fruit. The birds and squirrels took a large share, but I still managed to harvest about 30 pounds.

At home in our Mediterranean climate, pomegranates are a popular late fall-winter addition to local menus, brightening meals with bursts of flavor.

That's about 1/4 cup arils in the dish.
Fresh arils – the juice-packed seed sacs – get sprinkled in salads and over entrees. Like little rubies, they decorate desserts.

But how do you enjoy that pomegranate flavor long after the season has gone?

Pomegranate molasses preserves that intense flavor and makes it easy to augment all sorts of dishes. Use it as a glaze on pork or chicken. Add a tablespoon to vinaigrette or other dressings. It’s a must for Mediterranean cooking.

The molasses is basically concentrated pomegranate juice. It will keep refrigerated for months.

On average, a pomegranate yields about 1/2 cup juice. This recipe used 6 pomegranates to make 1 cup molasses.

To produce juice, removed arils and then put them through a food mill. (While deseeding the fruit, wear old clothing that you won’t mind getting stained.)

Or simply cut the pomegranate in half, and juice with a citrus juice reamer. (It’s messy but fast.)

This molasses recipe can be scaled down as needed; it will reduce faster but watch closely.

Pomegranate molasses
That's arils from six pomegranates, enough for 3 cups juice.
Makes 1 cup to 1-1/2 cups


3 cups pomegranate juice

Juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup sugar


In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine pomegranate juice, lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and let simmer uncovered, stirring often, until desired consistency. This takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

The final result: Very thick and sticky.
When finished, the juice will be reduced by half to two-thirds, depending on desired thickness. The molasses will cover the back of a spoon like a thick syrup.

Store covered in the refrigerator.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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