We are lucky to have fresh pomegranates available this summer.
A fan of the opulent colour, sweet-sour taste and reputed health benefits, I’ve been drinking prepared pomegranate juice for a while now.
Recently with time on my hands, and holiday-season catering in full-swing, the time was right to experiment with the fresh fruits.
Without pre-reading any recipes, I set about extracting the seeds and juice with a spoon. Violet-ruby juice splattered our kitchen and so too my white T-shirt. My daughter later told me that the most effective method is to place the pomegranate in a snap-lock plastic bag, and gently beat it with a rolling-pin until you feel the seeds popping inside the fruit. It’s then a simple matter of removing the fruit from the bag, slitting the skin with a knife, and gently squeezing the juice into a suitable receptacle.
I eventually made Pomegranate and Quince Relish to go with our summer feasts. Here’s how:
In a small, heavy-based saucepan sweat a thinly sliced, large red onion in a little water or olive oil until the onion is soft and translucent. Keep the heat low, as you don’t want browning or scorching. When onion is very soft, add a heaping teaspoon of quince paste and a tiny splash of water, and stir vigorously until the paste if fully dissolved. You may need a little extra water if the paste is not easily dissolving. Add the juice of half a lime – if no limes, you can use lemon juice or verjuice or white wine vinegar – and keep stirring. Wooden or silicone spoons are the best tools for this job. When the quince paste is fully dissolved, add pomegranate seeds and juice of one fruit, and keep stirring until fully mixed. Sprinkle in a smidge of ground cinnamon and stir very well. A turn of the pepper mill with white pepper is probably a nice addition. Taste and see if you need to adjust sourness (add lime), sweetness (add quince paste) or spice. If too wet, keep stirring and cooking until the excess moisture has evaporated. Store in a pre-sterilized jar.**see below
This pomegranate relish is delightful to the eye and the taste buds. It’s a richly hued, sweet-sour accent to salty, smoked or cured meats and sausages, it’s fantastic over hot fresh haloumi on a bed of rocket leaves, and for all I know, it may even be nice with tempeh.
Pomegranate sherbet… the drink of love, or the great panacea for horribly hot days and nights?
Makes about 1.1 litres (2 pints)
2-3 large pomegranates
175 g (6 oz) sugar, or more
5 ml rose-flower water
Squeeze or press pomegranates all over until the fruit is quite pulpy and soft to the touch. Holding the pomegranate inside a deep bowl, carefully make a slit in the skin with a very sharp knife and carefully squeeze the juice – the juice will stain everything it touches. Squeeze gently to extract all juice. Dissolve the sugar in 600 ml (1 pint) of water, then add the juice. Taste to see if you need more sugar, as the sourness of this fruit is variable. Pour into a jug and chill well. Add ice, sprinkle on the rose-water and serve with more iced water if wished.
A wonderfully exotic, deep purple drink, popular in Persia and also Iraq….I love its bitter-sweet flavour. It also makes a spectacular jelly, Try to buy plump-looking pomegranates – dry wizened specimens will have no juice. Rosamond Man. The Complete Meze Table
Be sure to bookmark this page and come back, as the next post will explore not-quite-101-things to do with rose-water.
**Keeping it nice: We stored our relish in an old salsa jar which we ‘pre-sterilized’ by boiling in a big pot of water, being sure to include the lid of the jar. As the jar and lid must be dry and scrupulously clean before adding the relish, we dried them in the oven at low temperature with the fan on, and made sure we didn’t touch the inside of the jar or lid . Once you have all the relish safely stored, you may lick the spoon!