Original post from November 2018 updated with June 2020.
What’s in a name? that which we call a Nar Ekşisi
By any other name would smell as sweet?
3 Lira, 8 Lira 18 Lira ...Why the price difference and what's the name difference?
Both say Nar Ekşisi - 'pomegranate sour', but the two products look and taste very different when compared side by side and can be the difference in just how great your salad turns out to be.
Had you noticed the difference?
It's just a straightforward one-word difference on the front of the bottle, but the labelling shows an entirely different product if you turn it around.
The list of ingredients of one bottle outweighs entirely the other, but why?
Pomegranates come with an array of health benefits, antioxidants, vitamins and anti-inflammatory properties. It said to be helpful to your immune system, lower cholesterol and help the body boost its B vitamin reserves (Livestrong.com)
But that's if you're consuming pomegranate - just pomegranate, which is what Nar Ekşisi is, 100% concentrated pomegranate juice.
The second item - the 'Sauce' has a list of ingredients varying with each brand, but you can expect to see at least, glucose syrup and/or sugar, citric acid, colourings, flavourings and other chemicals alongside some actual pomegranate juice, however even that's not always guaranteed.
Keeping costs down many of the çig kofte takeaway shops are now only offering only the 'sos' version, and some of these don't even have any actual pomegranate juice in at all.
When you pay 5 - 8 lira for a lunchtime snack maybe you can be more forgiving, but I've also noticed that 'sos' bottles are creeping into several restaurants nowadays which I find incredibly frustrating.
But it's not all about the quality of the ingredients it's about the product too, when you taste the true 'Nar Ekşisi', sour pomegranate molasses as in the 100% product, it should be precisely that - sour: it should make all your taste buds stand on edge.
It's that wonderful tangy, rich punch that works so well with the acidity of the lemon and the peppery, fruity undertones of olive oil on your salad.
It should also run like a concentrated juice not be all tacky, and you definitely shouldn't be left with a sweet sickly taste in your mouth.
And most surprisingly when it comes to the sauce - more expensive doesn't always mean better quality:
take these two items here - the Carrefour version versus a reputable spice brand here in Turkey.
The Carrefour version which is 3.45 Lira* is made up with 30% concentrated pomegranate juice, the Bağdat version at 8.75 Lira* just 10% juice and also contains pomegranate flavouring.
Both include caramel colouring, citric acid, glucose syrup, water alongside Sodium benzoate (Carrefour) and potassium sorbate (Bağdat)
Which leaves us with the question should I buy Nar Ekşisi (pomegranate Sour) or Nar Ekşisi Sos (Pomegranate sour sauce)?
The answer for me is simple - always the 100% pomegranate molasses, either from the shop or from a farmers market/store holder you can trust.
It does cost a lot more, but you are getting a different product with each, and for me, the quality is worth paying for, the taste, texture and overall enjoyment is unmatched in the sauce version.
However, it isn't always that simple and so if you don't mind or even like sweeter molasses and you need to watch the pennies then look out for the sauce with the highest concentrate of juice or 'Nar Suyu Konsantresi' - that is concentrated pomegranate juice.
Had you noticed that there was a difference in tastes in bottles of sauces, have you bought a bottle of 'sos' thinking you were buying the molasses you had enjoyed in a Turkish restaurant?
When I was pregnant with my son I couldn't get enough of Nar ekşisi: I wanted it on salad, chips, crackers! I was obsessed with it, but I wasn't always getting the same yummy satisfaction.
I bought different brands trying to find the 'one' I liked. Then one day I clocked the price difference before noticing the labelling difference.
Around that time I also started to suffer from gestational diabetes. I looked after my diet better but I also swapped over to the 100% pure concentrate and my sugar levels became well just that - level.
I still have a bottle of the sauce that I'm using up by adding to cakes and biscuits but I'll never go back.
*Prices correct as at November 2018