It is easy to make grenadine syrup from scratch using fresh pomegranates or pomegranate juice. Impress your friends with a more grown-up cocktail using homemade grenadine, free from the artificial colors and flavors of the store bought varieties.
I’m not quite sure why it’s taken this long for me to get you this recipe. It’s one of those things that I’ve been making for awhile, and I keep saying that I’ll get it up on the blog, and then somehow skip it each year. It’s embarrassing how many of those sorts of posts I have in limbo. I’m the type of person who has lots of ideas, and who’s always making something new, but who doesn’t like to stop and get it all down on paper; or out into the great big internet, I guess.
Anyway, I want to introduce myself…
Hi, my name is Tracy, and I’m a pomegranaholic.
I don’t know if that’s really a thing, but if it is, I’m guilty. I’m the kind of girl that loves the summer, and the coming of autumn and winter is almost enough to make me want to go into hibernation. Almost, I say, because there are a few things that I love enough about fall to get me through it each year. One of those things is pomegranate season!
My love of pomegranates makes the coming of winter just that much easier to bear, especially now that the pomegranate tree in our yard is giving me tasty and sweet fruits. Before this year, my tree gave a few pomegranates each year, but they were small and flavorless. This year, my baby is all grown up and ready to make me super happy with tasty fruit.
It’s funny to think that I probably had never even tried a pomegranate when I was living in the US, and now I eat them almost daily during autumn. If you’ve never tried one, I definitely recommend it. Not only are they tasty, but they are packed with healthy antioxidants and vitamins!
The closest I had ever come to eating a pomegranate when I was a kid was drinking a “Shirley Temple” at this restaurant we occasionally went to downtown. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the “Shirley Temple,” it’s a non alcoholic mixed drink usually made with either ginger ale, 7-Up, or Sprite and grenadine, and topped with a marachino cherry. I used to feel so grown up sipping my sugar laden “cocktail,” despite otherwise normally never drinking soda pop at home. I have to admit that now the thought of that makes me somewhat cringe, and I can’t drink anything nearly that sweet anymore.
Why make grenadine?
Unfortunately, these days grenadine isn’t normally made with very much pomegranate juice, if any, anymore. While it may have a touch of pomegranate juice, it’s mostly made up of artificial colorings and flavorings, high fructose corn syrup, and, perhaps, a touch of citric acid and some preservatives.
While I wouldn’t exactly call homemade grenadine a “healthy” recipe, it is much further on the healthy continuum than the store bought varieties. A dash of homemade grenadine in a glass of seltzer water makes a much healthier and tastier, more grown up, Shirley Temple. 😉
You can make homemade grenadine with either an unsweetened, pure pomegranate juice or you can go even further and make it yourself from fresh pomegranates. This year I decided to make it both ways just for fun. Either way, I think it’s so much better than any store bought grenadine that I’ve tried.
How to make Pomegranate Juice
To make your own pomegranate juice, just open up a couple of pomegranates, remove the seeds, blend them, and strain the juice through a cheesecloth. You can watch the entire process of making grenadine from pomegranates in the video below:
Which sugar should you use? How much?
While you can use less sugar in making the grenadine, I usually use a 1:1 ratio of pomegranate juice to water. Grenadine is really more of a syrup, and if you are looking to make a similar syrup, you will need to dissolve enough sugar, and evaporate some of it out, to get the mixture to thicken. If you use less sugar, the process to get to a syrup will take longer, and you’ll end up with less grenadine. (That said, it will probably have a more potent pomegranate flavor.) The sugar also works to help preserve the grenadine so that it lasts much longer than just the juice itself. How long it can be kept really depends on the amount of sugar used, how much water you evaporate, and whether or not you add in some lemon or lime juice to take the place of the citric acid used in the commercial grenadines.
I normally like to make my homemade grenadine with an organic demerara sugar, but I have to admit that this last batch was made with a bleached white sugar in the interest of getting a bright reddish pink grenadine that would be beautiful in pictures without the addition of any colorings. Making it with a darker colored sugar will obviously turn the grenadine a darker, browner shade of red, but honestly, I still find it beautiful. The flavor will also vary somewhat depending on the sweetener used, with darker sugars, like coconut sugar, giving it more of a caramel-y flavor. Depending upon the sweetener used, you could even consider this a paleo treat.
How long does a homemade grenadine last?
Homemade grenadine has enough sugar in it that it should last for at least a month in the fridge. I’m pretty sure I’ve used it past that without noticing much of a difference in appearance or flavor, but, again, that depends on how much sugar you use, and how much water is left in your final product. That said, if you aren’t going to be giving it to your kids, and plan on serving it in cocktails anyway, you can add some vodka to your grenadine to make it last almost indefinitely (depending upon the amount added). I like to add in the vodka after a couple of weeks, if we aren’t using it up, to make a grenadine liqueur of sorts and make sure that it doesn’t go bad. I mean, let’s be honest, pomegranates aren’t super cheap, unless you have them growing on trees like I do. 😉
Coloring your homemade grenadine
Many people will simmer the grenadine juice with some hibiscus flowers to make it a brighter shade of burgundy. I have to admit, though, that I’m a bit of a purist, and don’t like the added flavor. I can imagine that rose petals and even homemade beetroot powder would be other options for naturally coloring your homemade grenadine. I honestly find it beautiful as it is, and don’t think it needs it. If you do use some sort of natural coloring, and think it looks and tastes great, I’d love to hear about it!
What sorts of cocktails would you make with this homemade grenadine now that you know how to make it?
This post is also available in Español.