Please excuse the boastful claim in the title, but today is the start of the Republican convention after all and I thought it only fitting that I should choose to share my very own syrupy red creation on such a night. And why not? It can only be an improvement over the artificiality that is simultaneously on display at the podium in Cleveland and on store shelves pretty much anywhere in America.
You see, good grenadine, the real deal that I’m about to share with you, is unfortunately not the cheery bright red fakery that you’ll find most everywhere. Honestly I don’t know why they even sell that crap when all it seems to be is corn syrup and red food coloring. If you want the real thing, it’s being produced by a few small batch makers but you’ll pay a premium. Since it’s pretty easy to do at home, I decided to make and bottle my own. And you can too. Here’s how:
The first thing to decide is if you want to deal with juicing fresh pomegranates. That’s up to you and whether or not you a) have a juicer and b) have figured out how to separate those pesky seeds from the white flesh without ending up with pieces of flesh mixed into your seeds. It seems Martha Stewart has figured that out but I don’t vouch for her technique. (If you want to try to follow her lead, click here.)
But rather than raise your blood pressure, and potentially end up with a scarlet stained kitchen when you inevitably hurl the frustrating fruit against the wall, you can simply buy the pure juice from the store. Just make sure you buy the 100% unsweetened juice, not mixed with anything else.
Some recipes I’ve seen call for making a simple syrup of 1:1 juice to sugar, but I found that to be too sweet. Other recipes call for pomegranate syrup, which you can buy from specialty Middle Eastern stores. But why bother when that specialty item is something you may not find other uses for, and when it’s apparently made by slow simmering pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon anyway? I don’t get it but since I’ve never tasted it, maybe I’m wrong.
In any case, this is what I did and it’s awesome!
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/2 cup sugar, preferably pure cane sugar
- Juice from 1/2 small lemon
- 1-3 teaspoons orange flower water (You can easily get this from a big chain liquor store.)
- 1/2 ounce vodka, as a preservative (optional)
In a saucepan heat the juice and sugar only to the point where the sugar melts. Do not boil it! Once sugar is dissolved, turn the heat down very low and let it simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes until it thickens. It will thicken as it cools so in order to test the consistency you’ll want to dip a wooden spoon in periodically, take it out and blow on it until it cools a bit and then test it out. The final result should be more or less like any other syrup.
Once you’re done simmering and testing, remove it from the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Let cool to room temperature and then bottle it and refrigerate it. Without the vodka it should last about a month. If you want it to last longer but don’t want to use the vodka, I’m sorry I can’t help you. You’ll have to google that one.
Now you can savor your tangy, sweet, fruity grenadine in your favorite cocktail like a Tequila Sunrise, the classic Shirley Temple, over ice cream, or whatevs. Enjoy!