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Yes, it’s true. Things have been pom-centric around here lately. But I promised in my last post that I’d tell you the method I used for juicing a pomegranate. Here it is. I borrowed the basic idea from All The Marmalade, who has a great explanation and grenadine method.

Open a pomegranate and release the arils, in whatever is your favourite way (here’s ours). Once the arils are released, you need to crush them up with some sugar to macerate (think of what happens when you toss frozen berries with a bit of sugar– all that juice? Same idea.). My first attempt at this was a disaster: red hands, shredded saran wrap, and a stained potato masher was all that I got.

Then I had an inspiration– my potato ricer! It has holes larger than the seeds, so none could escape, and I could control the pressure so as not to crush the seeds with the juice and make it bitter*.

I scooped the seeds into the ricer, squeezed them gently over a bowl, then dumped the whole, crushed arils in with the released juice. A stay overnight in the fridge, and everything was ready to go.

One thing– if you’re making grenadine from this, you will still need to add more sugar to the reduced juice, but not as much as if you were starting with bottled pomegranate juice– the sugar maceration ensures that.

Technique and recipe:

To Juice a Pomegranate
I haven’t tried it yet, but I have a feeling this potato ricer technique would still work well without the sugar if you’re just going for the juice and don’t want any sweetness. Just skip the sugar/overnight maceration step. It’s a good alternative if you don’t have a juicer and don’t want any of the bitterness of the seeds in your juice.

1. Open a pomegranate and release the arils any way you find convenient.
2. Toss the arils with half their volume of granulated sugar (eg. 1 cup pomegranate=1/2 cup sugar)
3. Place the pomegranate/sugar mixture in a potato ricer and squeeze gently over a bowl to crush the arils and release some juice.
4. Toss the crushed arils in the juice, cover the bowl with cling wrap, and leave bowl in fridge to macerate overnight.
5. The next day, remove the bowl from the fridge and strain the mixture into a new bowl, crushing the arils gently to be sure you’re getting the most possible juice. Go ahead and use a potato ricer again if you want.

To make grenadine from your fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice

1. Measure the volume of juice that you’ve obtained.
2. Place the juice in a small saucepan and bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until reduced by half.
3. Taste the syrup (cool it on a spoon first) for sweetness and check consistency. Add sugar if desired (I added approximately another 1/4 of the original volume). Bring back to a boil.
4. When the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and cool. Add a dash of vodka for preservation purposes and store in the fridge or freezer.

*On a side note, I got a great comment today on our grenadine post. Chelsey said that she’s made grenadine from fresh pomegranate before, and she juiced it by whirling the arils quickly through a food processor, another technique I’ve seen online (which has the benefit of being nice and simple. I must try this.) She said she liked how she got some seed flavour in the juice that way, but she noticed a bit of a similar “musty” flavour in her finished grenadine. So my conclusion is this: the reason the fresh pom grenadine I made tasted so much better to me is that it had NO seed in it. I assume that industrially-produced pomegranate juice is crushed to smithereens, and a huge amount of the seed goes into the juice, thus imparting that flavour that we both noticed! Something to think about.

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I promised a grenadine recipe to my food writing class almost a month ago. Here it is, finally. When I first made the promise, I’d never made grenadine before, so I was far from an expert. When I set out to get the formula, I immediately turned a simple recipe into a complex test of techniques and flavours. That’s the history of the Great Grenadine Experiment. The result was five different grenadines, all of which are sitting in my freezer (GGE tip#1- the syrup has a high sugar content, and that along with a dash of vodka for preservation means that it won’t freeze solid in the freezer. It’ll last forever stored this way).

When I started reading about grenadine, I found that most of the syrups you buy in the store are unlikely to contain any pomegranate at all. They’re all corn syrup, artificial flavouring and red dye. A traditional grenadine is made from pomegranate (grenade is pomegranate in French–isn’t that a beautiful word? Then again, so is pomegranate) juice that is combined with sugar to make a thick syrup. I also found a few sources that mentioned cherry juice and orangeflower water as other possible ingredients. I thought I’d play with the cherry flavour, but I didn’t try any grenadine with orangeflower water. Next time. Or if someone gives it a shot (just a dash per 1 cup should do… it’s strong stuff), please¬† let me know what you think!

So sugar and juice– that’s all right, easy to handle. Next step–technique. I found two basic techniques online, one “cold” and one “cooked.” So I tried them both. And I also discovered that some people juice their own pomegranate while others used prebottled juices. So I tried that too. All those techniques equalled the following combinations: pom/cherry juice cooked, pom/cherry juice cold, pom juice cooked, pom juice cold, and finally, fresh pom juice (which I cooked, as I didn’t have enough juice to try the cold… I know, serious scientific method failure).

GREAT GRENADINE EXPERIMENT

Hypothesis: I can make grenadine at home.

Method: The following two recipes, which can easily be doubled or tripled.

Cooked Grenadine

1 cup pomegranate juice (or pomegranate-cherry blend)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vodka (optional)

Bring the juice to a simmer over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Simmer it until it is reduced by half, then mix in the sugar, continuing to cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, cool, add vodka, then refrigerate or freeze.

Cold-Method Grenadine

1 cup pomegranate juice (or pom-cherry blend)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vodka (optional)

Combine juice and sugar in a lidded jar, and shake until sugar is dissolved. Let the jar sit for a while, then shake again. Allow to sit once more, then shake again to finish. Honestly, all this shaking may not be necessary. I just really wanted to make sure the syrup was all un-sugar-crystallized. When the sugar is fully dissolved, add a dash of vodka, then refrigerate or freeze.

Conclusions:

Pomegranate/ Cherry juice cooked: This is a dark syrup with a definite cherry flavour. Though the cherry juice was organic with no preservatives, Carlo felt that this had a “preserved” flavour that he didn’t find appealing. I liked the cherry flavour all right, but I felt that the cooked syrup tasted, for lack of a better word, a little musty.

Pomegranate/Cherry juice cold-method: This syrup was thinner and brighter flavoured, but tasted too much of cherries for me. The shaking left a bit of froth at the top of the juice, and the sugar concentration is obviously lower, as the syrup turns to slush in the freezer. I found I needed more of it to add enough flavour to the drink, but I much preferred its flavour to the cooked syrup.

Sub-Conclusion: Pomegranate/Cherry might be okay, but the proportions need to be adjusted so that it’s somewhere more like 3/4 pomegranate and 1/4 cherry juice.

Bottled Pomegranate Juice Cooked: This tastes dark and just slightly tangy. In my taste-testing, however, I found it very unpleasant. Like the cooked pom/cherry, it was musty tasting. It was actually my least favourite.

Bottled Pomegranate Juice Cold-Method: Like the cherry/pom combo, this was bright-tasting, but the lack of cherry made it a little heavier. I’m starting to think that maybe my pomegranate juice was at fault. (GGE hint #2- try a different bottled juice than President’s Choice brand)

FRESH pomegranate, juiced and Cooked: The most beautiful colour of the five, this syrup is candy-pink, thick and smooth, but it has the brighter, sunnier taste of the cold-method syrups. I’m sorry, dear readers, because this is obviously also the most labour-intensive syrup. But it really is the best. And I’ll tell you how I juiced the pomegranate in a separate post. It’s not really THAT hard to do.

FINAL CONCLUSION: Fresh pomegranate juice is the best! What do you think? Have you made grenadine before? What technique did you use?

Just for colour reference, here’s that picture from the top of the post again. It’s just grenadine in soda water. From left to right, the syrups are: cooked pom/cherry, cold pom/cherry, cooked fresh pom, cooked pom, and cold pom.

When I was a little girl, my best friend always came to school with fancy lunches full of things that were unheard of in my household:¬† fruit roll-ups, sliced apples wrapped in saran wrap to keep them from browning, white bread. I was, I admit, jealous. From the vantage point of a 10-year-old raised on home-made whole wheat bread, apples peeled and browning in tupperware, and (okay, so I never minded the cookies) chocolate cookies made from scratch, my friend’s lunch was already pretty enviable. Then one day she showed up with a pomegranate.

I may have been bragging a little before (come on, as if homemade whole wheat bread did me any long-term damage), but I can tell you this humbly– I had never in my life seen nor heard of a pomegranate. Honestly, I don’t even know where her mom found it back then. I remember her nonchalantly pulling it apart, popping those brilliant red seeds in her mouth as if they were nothing, as if they were something she had every day, like ramen noodles or teddy grahams. She let me taste it, and I remember I was fascinated by the burst of juice as I bit into the seeds (now I know they’re called arils) and flummoxed by the little seed in the middle, which I spit out and dropped on the playground.

After that time, I never saw another pomegranate for years. Now, of course, pomegranate is everywhere. Those juicy little rubies jazz up every dish imaginable, and bottles of pom lurk in fridges across North America. But isn’t there still something impossibly exotic about a pomegranate?

Well, impossible, maybe. When I started buying pomegranates and trying to eat them with the nochalance of my old friend, I discovered one thing I hadn’t realized back then. That beautiful red? It’s really red, and it gets EVERYWHERE if you don’t know how to get into the fruit to release those little arils. Luckily, I’ve discovered a fool-proof (or at least juice-everywhere-proof) way to get into a pomegranate.


First, I cut a little cap off the top, like cutting a cap off a pumpkin. I do this at a shallow depth, to avoid cutting into the arils (see above). Once the top is off, I cut the pomegranate into quarters (like the photo at the top of this post), just scoring the skin (with the cap off, you’ll get an idea of the depth you need to cut so that you don’t cut into the arils). I pull the quarters apart, then submerge them in a bowl of water, gently pulling the little seeds away from the membrane. Actually, I’m not very gentle about it, to be honest, but with the pom underwater, there’s no danger of getting squirted with juice anyway. The arils will separate and fall to the bottom of the bowl, while the papery membrane will float to the top. When your pomegranate quarters are all emptied of seeds, just skim the floating membrane bits off the surface of the water, then drain the arils in a strainer.

Once you have the arils separated, you can store them in a bowl in the fridge, or do something crazy with them, like juice them to make homemade grenadine. Oh yes, that post is coming soon.