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Pomegranates can add Mediterranean touch year-round

Recipe: Pomegranate molasses a versatile way to preserve flavor

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

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.

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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

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Arils from six pomegranates, enough for 3 cups juice.

Makes 1 cup to 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients:

3 cups pomegranate juice

Juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup sugar

Instructions:
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.

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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 Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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