pomegranate molasses. and loki.

side

It’s Monday. The last day of February and, officially, the end of Australian summertime. Rather hard to believe, as the weather remains warm and I’m still in light clothing past midnight (it’s 01:04am). As I type, a slight breeze wafts through the open door, the air redolent of wet grass and burnt shrubbery. Both were presumably soaked this evening by domestic sprinklers, a timer set to summer restrictions. I can imagine the leaves unfurling after hours in the blazing sun.

This is my favourite time of day. The inky black, the quiet. The street is almost still and other than Loki’s gentle breaths, our living room is too. I’m tired but relaxed, my fingers wrapped comfortably around a glass of iced water. I type, thoughts align: if only life was always this simple.

glass

In my last post, I mentioned that I made some pomegranate molasses from some fruit that was languishing in my refrigerator crisper. It’s absolutely beautiful, sticky and piquant, so much better than anything from the store.

The original plan was to use the molasses in this sort of salad with some crumbled blue cheese, mum’s leftover apples, lentils and a sprinkle of toasted walnuts. Instead, I ate the apples (yep, told you I would) then went Ottolenghi-esque with various glazed roasted vegetables (carrots, eggplant, Brussels sprouts), all of which disappeared with some wilted spinach, toasted pepitas and soft goats cheese.

I took absolutely no photos. Well, other than these, which were snapped after I made the molasses. I guess I was too busy eating.

lid

So, take two: I’m posting the recipe for pomegranate molasses today with plans to make more as autumn takes hold. It’ll be drizzled over roasted cauliflower (in yoghurt, olive oil and sumac), whisked into lentil salad dressings and best of all, I’m planning a chicken tagine with the molasses, plenty of pepper and oregano.

All very autumnal food, slow and nourishing, fragrant with warming spices. Watch this space for (new season) recipes, coming soon.

But for now? Make this molasses and drizzle it over your (homemade or store-bought, I don’t judge!) hummus with some toasted crushed pistachios and/or walnuts, chopped tomato and parsley. Have an end-of-summer (or winter, depending upon where you are) sundowner, with char-grilled bread and some chilled white wine.

It’s super good, borderline gourmet with very little fuss. You’ll be glad you did.

Pomegranate Molasses

Adapted from this recipe by Sarah Hobbs

  • 2-3 fresh pomegranates to yield 1 cup (250mL) of juice (I found 1 pomegranate = roughly 125mL of juice)
  • 1/4 cup white caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Remove arils from pomegranates (I use the scoring method from this post). Place into the bowl of a food processor, then process until crushed (the inner seeds should be visible and all flesh should be reasonably pulpy). Strain through a fine sieve into a jug, pressing the pulp with back of a spoon to release the juice.

Combine the juice (which should be around 1 cup) with the caster sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

Increase heat to medium and bring mixture to a simmer. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes or until the mixture is syrupy, has reduced by half and easily coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool slightly, then pour into an airtight jar.

I store my pomegranate molasses in the pantry (at room temperature) as I use it quickly, however it should keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.

aerial

As I know how much you all love Loki, I thought I’d end with a quick snap (by Aaron) of what he does every time I use my food processor. As soon as the motor starts running, he sprints to the kitchen bench and launches an attack.

Heck he jumps high. I do hope he’s not afraid of it. I’ve attempted to confine him to the bedroom while I use it but… well, he hates it (meaning the confinement, but possibly the food processor too). Maybe he wants to operate it himself?

loki

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curing olives part two

jarcoloursloveAs of today, it’s been one month and two days since my virgin (or perhaps, extra virgin?) attempt at curing homegrown olives began. Four long, arduous weeks filled with impatience, saltwater, daily inspections and regrettably bitter taste tests.

For those of you who missed my original ‘olive harvest’ post, you can catch up on the details here. Roughly thirty days and four batches of brine later, I can gladly report that my little bullet-hard beauties are slowly progressing.

This morning, I sampled my second half-cured black olive. After four weeks, the shiny black fruit has progressed to a diluted shade of purple; the flesh has softened and the skin has taken on a smooth, almost-translucent appearance. In terms of flavour, the second taste test was drastically different to the first. The flesh has transitioned from hard and bitter to soft and sweet, with a whack of salt and fruity undertones.

olivebiteAfter some consideration, I do feel that there’s too much salt in the overall flavour profile. After the brining process concludes, I may soak the fruit in clean, fresh water prior to dressing the batch in olive oil and herbs. However, for a first attempt, I’m quite happy.

When it comes to the green olives, well… they’re taking much longer to cure than the blackened fruit. I didn’t attempt a taste test today (due to experiencing a bitter assault to the palate last time around) but the fruit itself is still resistant to a gentle squeeze. Interestingly, the bright green fruit has lost much of its attractive vibrancy. The predominantly green olives are now tinged with dirty yellow. Their variegated friends are now a pallid shade of dappled purple. A bit sad, really.

oliveswk4My favourite part of the curing process has been the brine itself. It’s therapeutic to watch the hard salt crystals bubbling in water, dissolving into a steaming pool of clarity. When poured into the jars, the density of the brine causes the olives to float like little ovular life buoys, and after a few days, the brine starts to acquire the pigment from the soaking olive skins.

Soft yellow turns to dark, bleeding khaki. A pale blush of rose seeps further into bright crimson. Each day has been different, like an evolving art piece that’s enlivened by the sun. Beautiful. It’s been almost sad to wash the brine down the drain.

jarcolours2So, that’s my week four report. As a naive estimation, I feel that I’ve probably got another two weeks to wait for the black olives, and… perhaps four for the resistant green fruit? In the meantime, feel free to send me your favourite recipes for dressing olives (so far I’m thinking herbs, lemon rind, perhaps some crushed garlic… all topped up with some fruity olive oil).

throughtheglass*As an offside, I just stumbled across a recipe for Martini Soaked Olives at the Kitchn. Gorgeously boozy, simple and delicious. Bookmarked for when the green olives are ready. I’m excited.

Update: my finished, dressed olive post is available here. I now have five large jars of soft, juicy olives marinating in extra virgin oil, herbs, citrus rind and cracked spices. Definitely worth every minute.

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