The Eastern Mediterranean has embraced the pomegranate for so many centuries that a thick, tart, richly colored "molasses" made from its juice is a year-round essential of the region's cuisines. Paula Wolfert, author of The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean (HarperCollins, 1994), advises buying good-quality imported pomegranate molasses in Middle Eastern groceries. According to Wolfert, "This is actually a case in which buying something from the store is better than making it at home, because of the extraordinary flavor of the pomegranates that grow in that region." (Wolfert prefers a widely available Lebanese brand, Cortas.) Use the syrup to brighten the flavor of beans, add astringency to salads and vegetables, and give depth to sauces for grilled fish. It's also employed as a tenderizing marinade for lamb and pork. Diluted, it's excellent in drinks and sorbets. Pomegranate molasses will keep almost indefinitely in the refrigerator.
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