Homemade grenadine, also known as pomegranate syrup, is made from fresh in season pomegranates flavoured with low GI cane sugar, homemade pomegranate molasses featuring lemon and heat reduction to create complex sugars and rose water. The homemade from scratch pomegranate molasses adds an extra complexity and depth of flavour to the syrup and includes lemon along with sugar, being a further reduced and thicker syrup. Both the grenadine, or pomegranate syrup, and the pomegranate molasses are easy to make, but do take a little time and advance preparation. Pomegranates are messy to juice but I say embrace the messiness and the process because the end result is a very flavoursome bespoke grenadine syrup that can be used in a range of different cocktails including new school daisy’s such as those described by David Wondrich in Imbibe and Harry’s pick me up cocktail from Harry Craddock’s (1930) The Savoy Cocktail Book.
A quick history and cocktail how to for grenadine or pomegranate syrup
David Wondrich (2015: 115-119, 126-132) in Imbibe explains that grenadine became a key ingredient in what he calls ‘new school’ or later versions of the Daisy cocktail recipe in the 1880’s. The Daisy is closely related to the Brandy Sour – which included brandy, lemon juice, sugar dissolved in water and in later versions orange cordial along with a garnish of orange and berries in season. The Daisy is a more elaborate version of the Brandy Sour that includes a fancy garnish of fruit, mint served over finely crushed ice with straws and comes to be topped with seltzer water – it also comes to include grenadine. In later cocktail manuals such as Harry Craddock’s (1930) The Savoy Cocktail Book grenadine features in many cocktails including the Harry’s pick me up cocktail which calls for brandy, grenadine and lemon juice. I have tried using the homemade grenadine syrup made with this recipe in this pick me up cocktail and it is delicious. This pick me up cocktail is a bit like a new school Daisy but with the fizzy water replaced with champagne bubbles.
Marcia Simmons (2012) in Serious Eats details that mass produced commercially made grenadine can contain corn syrup and colouring agents being used to change the colour of drinks rather than introduce real pomegranate flavour. This recipe for homemade grenadine using freshly hand squeezed pomegranate juice from in season pomegranates, homemade pomegranate molasses and rose water offers a grenadine syrup of the bespoke homemade variety using real fresh in season pomegranates and is quite different from the store bought kind. This homemade and handcrafted seasonal cocktail syrup can be made with or without the additional complexity of pomegranate molasses which is cooked for longer producing complex sugars and uses lemon juice and with or without flavouring agents such as orange flower water or rose water.
Making your own grenadine or pomegranate syrup for cocktails
To make this recipe for homemade grenadine or pomegranate syrup you need fresh pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses, sugar and a flavouring agent such as rose water or orange flower water. Using homemade pomegranate juice and homemade pomegranate molasses means you have control over the ingredients and method used to make the syrup and you can ensure it includes only fresh in season and highest quality ingredients thus yielding a more intense and delicious pomegranate flavour for cocktails and desserts. You can adjust the type and measure of sugar to ensure the pomegranate fruit flavour is the star of the syrup. Below I provide my tips on:
- How to juice fresh pomegranates at home
- How to make pomegranate molasses from scratch at home with fresh in season pomegranates, lemon juice and low GI cane sugar
- How to make homemade grenadine or pomegranate syrup for cocktails using freshly juiced pomegranates, homemade pomegranate molasses, low GI cane sugar and rose water
1. How to juice pomegranates for homemade pomegranate molasses and grenadine
Juicing pomegranates is a very messy business but it’s fun and amazingly colourful and the aroma of fresh pomegranate is delicious, fruity and heady. Here are my best tips to make this a fun process rather than a headache.
- Free time – Approach this task when you have some spare time, on a weekend or free day off when you know you will not be interrupted – then you can enjoy the process and the mess
- Prepare your tools – I used a heavy chopping block, a sharp knife, a teaspoon, a hand citrus juice press, large metal bowls, saucepans and a fine mesh strainer, along with sterilised preserving jars
- How many pomegranates? – Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley (2015: 229) in Falafel for breakfast advise that one pomegranate yields approximately 100mls of juice – it is useful to bear in mind though that this will depend on the size of the fruit used – the size of the pomegranates I had access to varied and I ended up using 6 to yield just over 2 cups of juice 4 large ones and 2 smaller ones.
- Roll your pomegranate to burst the membranes and free the arils – Pomegranates are full of arils or seeds that are held in place by white membranes – if you burst the membranes by rolling the pomegranate with the flat of your palm on a chopping block or pummel it with a heavy wooden spoon the membranes will burst – you will hear a cracking sound which means it is time to spit open the pomegranate. If you continue rolling or pummelling for too long after this point when you hear the cracking the pomegranate may explode, squirting juice everywhere. The method of rolling the pomegranate I have adapted from Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley’s (2015: 194) amazing book Falafel for breakfast where they offer tips on how to make your own pomegranate juice and molasses. The tip of using a heavy wooden spoon comes from Alex Elliott-Howery and James Grant’s (2016: 142) book Cornersmith. The arils are much easier to free from the membranes and shell of the fruit once the membranes have been split, this process also releases a lot more juice than simply cutting open the pomegranate without rolling it first.
- Split your pomegranate and separate the arils – Split the pomegranate open with a sharp knife and then use your hands and fingers to separate the arils from the membranes and tip them into a large bowl, use a teaspoon to separate any that are stuck.
- Remove the white membranes – Once they are all out, pick over the bowl of arils, to remove any white membranes.
- Juice the arils – Juice the arils by placing them into a juicer, food processer or a citrus juice press and pressing or using a potato masher or heavy muddler to muddle them. If using a citrus juice press you will need to do this at least twice and then strain the juice out. I used two large metal bowls to transfer the pressed arils from one to the other as I went and strained into a waiting jug using a fine mesh strainer. Using a citrus juice press was an idea that I read about in Brendan’s Drinking Hobby blog although he suggests adding the entire pomegranate to a grapefruit sized press. I only have a lemon sized press so chose to use the arils in this and it worked wonderfully as the arils are captured in the press while it gives a firm press to release the juices. I highly recommend committing to the process of making your own pomegranate juice – you will develop your own bespoke syrup from fresh in season juice.
2. How to make homemade pomegranate molasses
Pomegranate molasses is easy to make and follows a very similar process to that used for making pomegranate syrup. The key difference is that lemon juice is added and that the resulting syrup is cooked for longer – 20 —30 minutes – and reduced to become thicker with more complex sugars. The pomegranate molasses has a complex and delicious flavour that is not unlike molasses with rich sugar and fruit notes. It is a distinct very dark red colour with lustre from the sugar. Making your own molasses allows you to control the ingredients and know exactly what has gone into the process. Pomegranate molasses is available from delicatessens and you could substitute this if you like although I highly recommend making your own for a truly bespoke homemade pomegranate molasses, rose water pomegranate syrup. The molasses can also be used in desserts, over yoghurt or ice cream, or in glazes and dressings. I have adapted the recipe from Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley’s (2015: 229) Falafel for breakfast. The main change that I have made is to make this a small batch process as I was making the molasses in order to flavour my pomegranate syrup. I used 1 cup of juice to produce a small preserving jar of molasses, whereas the original recipe calls for 1 litre. You can increase the quantities as required. Alex Elliott-Howery and James Grant’s (2016: 142) Cornersmith recipe for pomegranate syrup sits somewhere between molasses and syrup – not containing lemon juice and being cooked for longer (20 minutes) resulting in a thickened syrup which it is possible to extend the shelf life of by heat treating in a hot water bath. I recommend this recipe if you are wanting to preserve pomegranates.
3. How to make grenadine using homemade pomegranate juice & pomegranate molasses
To make homemade grenadine using the recipe provided here you need fresh in season homemade pomegranate juice, low GI cane sugar and a flavouring agent – I have seen recipes calling for orange flower water and rose water or rosemary and pomegranate molasses. Inspired by Marcia Simmon’s (2012) DIY pomegranate syrup recipe appearing in Serious Eats, I chose to use rose water, rather than the more usual orange flower water as a flavouring agent. Simmon’s (2012) also calls for pomegranate molasses as a flavouring, but does not provide a recipe for making the molasses. I chose to research how to make my own pomegranate molasses for the added depth and complexity of flavours and ended up using the method outlined by Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley (2015) in Falafel for breakfast. This homemade pomegranate molasses makes this recipe for grenadine or pomegranate syrup a bespoke, handcrafted one with fresh in season ingredients.
How is this recipe for homemade grenadine syrup different?
Made from scratch using homemade ingredients – This homemade grenadine or pomegranate syrup recipe is made from scratch using homemade hand pressed pomegranate juice and homemade pomegranate molasses made using a method outlined by Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley in Falafel for breakfast. Following Marcia Simmons (2012) in Serious Eats this homemade grenadine is flavoured with rose water rather than the more commonly called for orange flower water. The rose water adds a delicious and delicate rose fragrance and flavour to the finished syrup that is amazing in cocktails.
Low sugar and choice of low GI cane sugar – I have reduced the amount of sugar as the pomegranate molasses is full of complex sugars and the pomegranates themselves have their own sweetness. The usual ratio being fruit:sugar 1:1 in most recipes. This recipe for grenadine uses only half as much sugar – the sugar being used as a flavouring rather than a preserving agent. The resulting pomegranate syrup allows the true pomegranate fruit flavour to shine through with the deep complex flavours of the molasses underpinning this with sweetness and with light floral rose notes from the rose water. I have also chosen to use a low GI cane sugar in this recipe for homemade grenadine to make this syrup low GI friendly – while retaining fuller flavour from the cane sugar – offering a lower sugar option for making cocktails and refreshing drinks. The grenadine can be kept in the fridge but is best used fresh within 2 weeks. The homemade molasses has a longer shelf life and can be kept for 3 months in the fridge.
Bespoke, artisanal, real fresh in season pomegranate juice syrup – This is a bespoke made from scratch seasonal syrup for cocktails and desserts that you can easily make yourself with full control over the ingredients and method of production. It just takes a commitment of time and the willingness to embrace the messiness of the process – in the end I think it’s worthwhile as sometimes being with mess teaches you a lot of skills that are useful in other messy areas of everyday life. If you can manage to be with the mess of making homemade grenadine and slow down enough to treat this as a meditation on the banal and find the beauty in the ordinary tiny details of how light shines on a single pomegranate aril or how the juice drips exactly this way or the amazing wonderful perfume of rich fresh pomegranate juice surely it’s possible to take this experience away and be with other messy things in life in an easier more relaxed way? Besides this grenadine syrup tastes amazing and will make your cocktails and desserts extra special. It’s just what is called for to make a new school Daisy as David Wondrich (2015: 132) in Imbibe recommends:
“The grenadine should probably be artisanal or at least made from pomegranates.”
Homemade grenadine or pomegranate syrup sampler – As is usual on this blog when trying out traditional or vintage recipes such as punch or posset, I’ve taken a sampler approach making only a small batch as I believe it’s a more accessible way into seasonal flavour pairing experiments. You can of course increase the quantities if you would like to.
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Grenadine: homemade pomegranate juice & molasses, rose waterPrint Recipe
- Pomegranate molasses: 1 cup pomegranate juice
- 50 gm low GI cane sugar
- 25 mls lemon juice
- Grenadine or pomegranate syrup: 1 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/2 cup low GI cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 1 teaspoon rose water
Sterilise your jars – see Resources
Pomegranate molasses: Place a couple of teaspoons in the freezer for later use to test the thickening of the molasses
Roll pomegranates on a heavy chopping block or work surface with the flat of your hand until you hear the membranes making a cracking sound
Cut open the pomegranates using a sharp knife
Use your hands, especially your fingers to search out and remove the arils or seeds from the membranes and shell, use a teaspoon for any stubborn arils
Once all the arils are extracted, pick over them to remove any white membrane
Juice the arils using a hand citrus juice press or a potato masher, juicer or food processor
If using a hand citrus juicer or potato masher process the arils twice to extract as much juice as possible
Strain the juice into a clean saucepan using a fine mesh sieve
Add sugar and lemon juice
Heat on medium heat until simmering
Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes until thickened
Test thickening by placing a small amount on a cold teaspoon – the cooling process will show the true thickness as the molasses will be runnier when hotter and thicken to setting point when cooled down
Transfer to a sterilised jar, may be kept in the fridge for up to 3 months, or heat treat the jar for 15 minutes in a hot water bath to extend the shelf life further – see Resources
Grenadine or pomegranate syrup: To make the pomegranate syrup, grenadine follow the same process to make the fresh pomegranate juice as detailed above, rolling the pomegranates to break the membranes and then cutting them open and removing the arils with your hands or a teaspoon, juicing and straining them
Add the strained juice to a clean saucepan and heat over medium heat until warmed through
Add the sugar and continue to heat and stir until dissolved
Add the molasses and continue to heat and stir to combine
Allow the syrup to cool down to room temperature
Add the rose water and stir to combine
Decant into a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks
Harry Craddock (1930, 2018 Dover reprint). Savoy Cocktail Book Dover: New York. Constable: London.
Alex Elliot-Howery & James Grant (2016). Cornersmith: Recipes from the café and picklery Murdoch Books: Crows Nest, Sydney.
Michael Rantissi & Kirsty Frawley (2015). Falafel For Breakfast: Modern Middle Eastern Recipes For Any Time Of The Day From Kepos Street Kitchen Murdoch Books: Crows Nest, Sydney.
David Wondrich (2015). Imbibe! Updated and Revised Edition: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar Perigree: New York.
Pomegranate syrup, molasses & grenadine recipes, styling & photography
Marcia Simmons (2012, updated 2018). DIY Grenadine recipe. In Serious Eats.
Marcia Simmons (2012, updated 2018). DIY vs. buy: How to make your own grenadine. In Serious Eats.
Pomegranate molasses recipe in Michael Rantissi & Kristy Frawley (2015). Falafel For Breakfast: Modern Middle Eastern Recipes For Any Time Of The Day From Kepos Street Kitchen Murdoch Books: Crows Nest, Sydney.
Amazing pomegranate syrup food and drinks styling, photography & recipes
Anisa Sabet (2017). Homemade Pomegranate Syrup. In Cooking with the Macadames.