Grenadine is that bright red, super sweet syrup that helps put the sun in a Tequila Sunrise and makes a Shirley Temple blush. It also occasionally puts the cherry in cherry cokes, but actually, grenadine is traditionally made from pomegranates (grenadine is French for pomegranate) and has a lot more going for it when you make your own. This quick, simple method for making homemade grenadine allows the tartness of the pomegranate to really come through and is a big improvement over the commercial versions.
Why, you might wonder, should I bother to make grenadine? For starters, a typical bottle of the store-bought stuff consists of high fructose corn syrup, water, citric acid, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate (preservative), red 40, natural and artificial flavors, and blue 1. So, basically, high fructose corn syrup with dyes and preservatives. Ugh.
Also, with your homemade version, you can control the sweet-to-tart ratio and end up with something that tastes way better than Rose's. And it only takes a few minutes to make, especially if you buy the pomegranate juice — an ingredient that's pretty easy to find these days.
Classically, grenadine is simply pomegranate juice mixed with sugar and boiled until it becomes a syrup. My recipe pretty much follows that formula. I have seen variations where you add pomegranate molasses, rose or orange blossom water, and rose hips or dried hibiscus, but I'm happy with my simple two-ingredient method. Well, not quite two ingredients, as I found a tiny splash of lemon juice in the end really helped to perk up the flavors.
Be sure to source 100% unsweetened pomegranate juice. I found my bottle at Whole Foods, but brands like POM are pretty easy to find anywhere. In looking at other recipes, I noticed that I use a lot less sugar in my grenadine than most. My recipe produces a sweet syrup, but with enough tart to make it interesting. If you find that it isn't sweet enough for you after tasting it in Step 3, just stir in another 2 tablespoons of sugar and consider omitting the lemon juice.
A touch of lemon can help to brighten the flavors.
How To Make Homemade Grenadine
Makes 1 cup, can be easily doubled
What You Need
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup 100% unsweetened pomegranate juice
1/2 lemon (optional)
Small sauce pan or skillet
Clean bottle for storage
- Combine the sugar and juice. In a sauce pan or skillet, combine the sugar and juice. Place over medium heat on the stovetop. Stir to help the sugar dissolve.
- Bring to a boil. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and cook for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
- Cool and add lemon juice. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool. Taste and add a few drops of lemon juice to bring out the tartness, if necessary.
- Bottle. Place a funnel in a clean bottle, and pour in the syrup Cap and label with the date. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
- Why a skillet? A skillet is much wider than a sauce pan, which helps the water to evaporate more quickly.
- Don't over boil. If you boil the mixture too long, it will start to crystalize.
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(Images: Dana Velden)