Ruby red and filled with small garnet-colored niblets, pomegranates are about the size of a large orange and covered with a leathery skin. The nibs are tart flavored, bursting with juice, and contain a hard, edible seed. While you can find pomegranate powder or syrup molasses for sale, pomegranate puree, a thick reduction of pomegranate seeds, may sometimes be needed for baked goods.
About the Seeds
The seeds of the pomegranate are edible — in fact, many people crunch through them when eating the whole, fresh nibs. In a puree however, the hard nugget can create an unpleasant texture, especially after it has been blended. While the seed can be removed from the puree, this can be time consuming, so many prefer to leave the seeds in, much like in the case of strawberry jam.
Blender or Food Processor
A blender or food processor is one of the fastest ways to make a pomegranate puree. Use a 1-to-8 ratio of water or pomegranate juice to fresh seeds, and blend until a thick paste forms. For a blender, you may need to add extra liquid, 1 teaspoon at a time, and blend in short increments to ensure that all of the nibs are easily broken up. While fast, a blender or food processor produces small, broken bits of seed in the puree.
Strainer or Food Mill
To produce a puree that does not contain any seeds, use either a fine mesh strainer or a food mill, both of which will separate the juice and pulp from the seeds. These methods however, are more labor intensive. Start by gently heating the nibs on the stove top. The heating process softens the nibs, making it easier for them to break down. Cook on low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the nibs exude a little juice. Add a small amount of water, around 1 tablespoon per cup of fruit, if necessary. Pour the water and nibs into a food mill or fine mesh strainer placed over a bowl.
Mill the nibs until all that remains are the seeds. For a fine mesh strainer, push the seeds against the mesh with the back of a wooden spoon until everything but the seeds have passed through the strainer. You want the skin from the nibs to pass through the mill or strainer as otherwise, you’ll only have pomegranate juice as it is the fiber that helps make it into a puree. Pomegranate puree made by this method is of a thinner consistency than is the puree made with a blender or food processor.
Using Pomegranate Puree
Pomegranate puree can be used in place of other fruit purees or jams for dishes. However, because it’s naturally very tart, you may need to sweeten the puree with either pomegranate molasses or sugar prior to using. Add the puree directly to smoothies for a sour punch and pink color, or spread onto sponge cake to make a pomegranate layer cake. Pomegranate pairs well with chocolate — including cacao — so the puree can be used to flavor homemade truffles. In Middle Eastern cuisine, pomegranate is used as a marinade for meats. Mix together the puree, Dijon mustard and sugar to make a fruity marinade for roast pork.
References and ResourcesBBC Food: Pomegranate
Incredible Smoothies: Pomegranate Smoothies
The Nibble: Perfect Purees
Best Health Mag: 10 Ways to Cook with Pomegranate
How to Cook Everything; Mark Bittman