Introduction: Homemade Pomegranate Liqueur
First Prize in the
Holiday Gifts Contest
Homemade pomegranate liqueur is surprisingly easy to make without any complex or out-of-the-ordinary tools and the results are both delicious and make perfect gifts for almost any occasion! All you need are a few simple ingredients, a few household kitchen utensils, and some time (it takes about a month and a half to properly age and cure).
Step 1: Tools, Utensils, Ingredients, Etc.
I went with the simplest utensils, using everyday kitchen implements instead of some specialty items. I always try to make things work with what I have, and this recipe is simple enough that nothing too technical is necessary.
- Pomegranates (roughly six, depending on their size)
- peel of 1 lemon (I prefer meyers)
- cinnamon stick
- 3 cups vodka
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- A large glass jar (I used a 3 litre jar)
- large plastic bowl
- paring knife
- vegetable peeler (or knife)
- measuring cups (liquid and dry)
- metal strainer
- small funnel
- glass bottles or storage containers for the final product
Notes on Utensils:
- Avoid plastic as much as possible when working with strong alcohol. Glass is always preferable.
- A food mill can be used for crushing pomegranate seeds, but certainly isn't necessary.Similarly, a tube siphon can be used to fill the bottles, but I find it just as easy to carefully use a measuring cup or ladle.
Notes on Ingredients:
- Pomegranate juice can be substituted if fresh pomegranates are unavailable, however Ive had better results using whole seed pods, as the seeds impart different characteristics to the liqueur and add more depth.
- I generally tend away from processed white sugar, however with this recipe - and most liqueurs - white sugar is the best way to go. unrefined, unprocessed sugars fail to yield as successful results.
- Other spices can be added as well, like cloves or star anise. My personal preference is to have more fruit flavored and less spiced liqueur (unless I go all out and make one heavily spiced). The spicing is up to you.
Step 2: Seeding the Pomegranates
There are several different ways to go about getting the seed pods out of pomegranates (some of which are even instructables!) but the water method has always been my preferred method.
- Cut the pomegranate in half (vertically as opposed to hemispherically)
- Fill a large bowl with water
- Turn the pomegranate half seed-side down and while holding the edges of the half, push on the center with your thumbs to basically turn the half inside-out. Sometimes it's not entirely successful and you need to pull apart the pods individually.
- By keeping the pomegranate under water, you minimize errant juice spraying when pods are incidentally broken (the stuff stains like crazy!) and the membrane, flesh, pith, etc. all float to the top, while the seeds fall to the bottom.
- One final rinse and agitation to free up any extra membrane and then you should have a glistening collection of seeds.
Step 3: Crushing the Pods and Extracting Juice
There's no perfect way to accomplish this one, and I've tried, seen, and heard everything from a potato masher to a blender. A food mill is an option, but the seeds are hard to the point that it makes it difficult. Keep in mind that the purpose of this step is to crush the pods so the vodka can infuse through the pomegranates, and not necessarily to fully extract all of the juice. This is the method I prefer:
- Place a fine mesh metal strainer in a plastic or glass bowl.
- Put seed pods into the strainer
- Using a spoon (i personally find slotted works nicely), press the pomegranate seed pods down against the strainer to crush the pods and extract the juice.
- Continue working the pods around the strainer until all the pods are broken.
- Remember to reserve the seeds as well as the juice!
Step 4: Peeling the Lemon
Using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife, carefully peel the lemon. The goal is to avoid getting any of the pith (the white part) with the peel, as you want the oils in the peel. The pith will impart an unpleasant bitterness in the final product. If you peel off too much, you can always scrape off extra pith.
Step 5: Infusion: Part I
Sterilize the large jar, either in boiling water or running through the dishwasher rinse cycle.
Add the pomegranate juice and seeds, the lemon peel, and the cinnamon stick.
Pour in the vodka, then wipe the rim of the jar to ensure it's clean and seal.
Store the jar in a cool and dark location, agitating the jar every day to ensure everything is properly infusing. A good, solid swirl is sufficient. I let this stage infuse for two to three weeks.
Step 6: Straining
After several weeks of infusing, it's time to strain the liquid.
Carefully strain the liquid through several layers of cheesecloth. It helps to moisten the cheesecloth first so the liquid permeates more smoothly.
Once you get to the point of straining out the pulp and rind, gently wring the cheesecloth to extract all of the liquid and juice (the fourth photo).
After straining, you can discard all of the rind, pulp and any spices.
Return the liquid to the jar.
Step 7: Making the Simple Syrup
Gently heat the sugar and water to create a simple syrup. Only heat until the sugar is dissolved, taking caution to heat on medium-low so the sugar doesn't begin to burn or caramelize.
Give the syrup time to sufficiently cool.
Step 8: Infusion: Part II
After the syrup has cooled, add it to the jar with the strained liquid.
Repeat the process, storing in a cool, dark and dry location, agitating every few days, and allow to age at least another three weeks, ideally 4 to 5 weeks.
Step 9: Bottling!
Sterilize the jars or containers you plan to bottle into, again either in a boiling water bath or in a sterilizing rinse of a dishwasher. Theoretically, the alcohol should help keep anything unhealthy at bay, but any time you're dealing with fresh fruit juice, it doesn't hurt to be safe. Also sterilize the funnel and whatever cups, spoons, etc. you plan to use to transfer the final product.
Carefully scoop the liquid out of the jar and transfer it into another glass cup. I use a liquid measure so it makes pouring easier. Use caution so you don't agitate any sediment at the bottom of the jar - it's unpleasant at best, and it's best to avoid bottling it. As I mentioned before, some prefer to use a siphon and rack the liquid, as in beer or winemaking, but I find it an unnecessary step and carefully scooping the liquid is just as efficient
Pour the liqueur into the bottles through the funnel, wipe the lid, and seal quickly. Wipe down the bottles to ensure they're clean, and now you're ready to serve, gift, etc.
Step 10: Serving Suggestions & Recipe Credits
This liqueur makes an excellent gift! Labeling with serving suggestions is always nice.
Just a few simple serving suggestions:
This pomegranate iiqueur can be served straight up, chilled.
mix 1 to 1 with vodka (straight or flavored) for a simple pomegranate martini. A splash of fresh pomegranate (or cranberry) juice can add another level.
An ounce of pomegranate liqueur in champagne makes for a festive (and stunning) drink.
While I'd love to take complete credit for this recipe, i cobbled together this recipe after reading through various websites across the internet and a few different books. Most notably, however, is the book Luscious Liquors by A.J. Rathbun and Gunther Anderson's internet musings on Homemade Liquors.
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