Pomegranate season brought a red explosion to my kitchen. Our little backyard tree - an aptly named Wonderful pomegranate - produced more than 60 huge red orbs.
They were the biggest pomegranates I've ever grown. Several were as large as softballs and just as round. One weighed 24 ounces.
Inside each fruit were hundreds of plump seed sacs. They seemed to be unusually dark this winter. Instead of crimson, the juicy sacs glistened like black garnets. They produced jelly and grenadine with the same, rich color.
And the flavor is outstanding - which is why I scrambled to preserve it for later enjoyment.
My favorite method is home-made grenadine. It's easy, quick and flexible depending on how much juice you have available. In a stainless steel saucepan, add one cup sugar to every cup of pomegranate juice. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer one minute until the sugar is fully dissolved. Let cool.
That's it. Store the grenadine in a jar and refrigerate; it will keep at least three months. Or freeze it for a year (or more). Grenadine adds color and pomegranate flavor to drinks, desserts, glazes (try it on pork) and other dishes.
Pomegranate molasses, a popular ingredient in Middle eastern cuisine, is similar to grenadine, but not as sweet. It also takes more time to make. For molasses, put 2 cups pomegranate juice in a heavy saucepan. Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Bring to boil.
Turn the heat down and simmer for about an hour, until the mixture becomes thick and syrupy. (It will reduce to about 3/4 cup.) Store in a jar in the refrigerator.
For more ideas on enjoying pomegranates, read Chris Macias' story in Wednesday's Food & Wine section in The Bee.