Friday, December 12, 2008

Pomegranate Molasses -- To make or not to make

A few of my readers suggested that I try making my own pomegranate molasses. So I did. I got the recipe from Simply Recipes, got myself a bottle of pomegranate juice, and gave it a shot.

First of all, let me point out that I might have screwed up. The sauce thickens when it cools, but you have to judge when to stop reducing it while it's still hot. The instructions of "until the juice has a syrupy consistency, and has reduced to 1 to 1 1/4 cups" was a bit hard to follow. Just how syrupy? I guess that's what 1 cup measurement is for, but unless you pour the syrup into a measuring cup and then back in the pan, you won't really know how much you have. Normally, such exact measurements are not that important in cooking. But this is not cooking. This is more like working with sugar, which falls into the category of kitchen tasks requiring precision. My first attempt resulted in an over reduced sauce. I tried adding some water to thin it out, which got it too thin, and I had to cook the sauce some more. By this time, my stove was completely covered in tiny pink dots of splattered juice. "Why oh why am I doing this?" I thought. I kept trying to cool little spoonfuls and compare their consistency to the store bought molasses. I am still not sure if I got it quite right as my home-made version is still cooling.

Now about the flavor. The home made version is less complex tasting. The addition of sugar and lemon juice mask the pomegranate flavor some. The only ingredient in the store bought version is pomegranate juice. Of course, I could try just reducing the pomegranate juice. But it seems a little funny to me to take pomegranate juice from concentrate (that's what's in those POM bottles) and turn it back into concentrate. My store bought bottle says it's from Lebanon. I wouldn't be surprised if they have some pretty awesome pomegrantes there and it would be hard for me to compete with my POM bottle.

The US has gone through a culinary revolution in the past 3 decades. We went from Holandaise sauce in a packet and cake mix in a box to let's-make-your-own-butter (Gourmet had an article on that not too long ago). When should you make a condiment vs. buy it? Here is my take on it. If it's a pantry item that lasts indefinitely, you should buy it. Chances are someone figured out how to make it way better than you and freshness is of no concern here. Do you make your own mustard, or how about wine? If you do, that's wonderful. But let's get real. People do those things because they get a kick out of them, not because their mustards, wines, or blue cheeses are better than what they can buy.

I think I'll stick with the store bought version of pomegrante molasses from now on.

8 comments:

shushka said...

It's like you read my mind!!

Where do you buy pomegranate molasses? I found this recipe 2 days ago and really want to find some:
http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=701140
and I really want to try it!

Helen said...

Hi Shushka,

See the end of this post for info on where to get pomegranate molasses. It's in the end of the recipe. I buy mine from Russo's in Watertown.

Cheers,
-Helen

Jess said...

mmm.... I love pomegranate anything!

As for the DIY question: I do make my own wine, yogurt, and bread on a regular basis.

I do it mostly because I enjoy the process. It's geeky, hands-on fun. If it wasn't, I might still do it, but not regularly.

That said, I do save a fair bit of money by making them myself. I *can* find as good quality in a store, and often better. But making it myself allows me to have a better quality than I could afford to buy *on a regular basis*.


(Although, for the wine, it will be a while before the investment pays off. I just started a few months ago, so it's still young, but very promising!)

As for bread, it's cheaper to make too, but it's more of a logistical problem. I can buy excellent bread, but I can't go through an entire loaf before it goes stale. Rolls work better, but require frequent runs to the store.

I've been using the no-knead method in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which lets me make the perfect amount of very good bread whenever I want. I highly recommend that book. It's not the be-all and end-all of breadmaking, but it makes it easy to bake very good bread without a huge time investment.

(p.s. I can't wait for my next class!)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Pomegranate molasses is so easy to find in markets now, and it does taste better than the reduced pomegranate juice. Also, a little goes a long way, so even if the small bottle seems expensive, it will last for months.

tantra flower said...

The pomegranate is one of my favorite fruits (to eat and to paint)...I have never tried pomegranate molasses though. It sounds delicious!

And I agree with you 100% about purchasing certain pantry items. It's interesting that this topic is one that has come up for me several times in the past few weeks. Just a few days ago someone (in a food forum) asked whether it's really worth the time and effort to make your own demi-glace when you can buy it. The overwhelming response was YES, but when the same question was asked about other items such as mole and blueberry pancake syrup the general consensus was that a good quality store-bought was probably better than what you could make yourself and less expensive.

I work two jobs and go to school full-time -- believe me I'm always open to short cuts. lol

Cheers, Helen. And Merry Christmas to you!!!

TF

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