I think what I proposed as Pomegranate week is going to turn into…weeks. There is so much I want to try and share about this berry.
The Babylonians believed chewing pomegranate seeds made them invincible in battle. When I drink one too many glasses of pomegranate liquor I feel invincible too.
Since making this will take a little over a month- start now to have it available for Christmas or New Years- or winter in general. Anything bright red feels festive to me.
I have many friends who would roll their eyes at the mention of how many days it takes to make this. “Why not just buy one from the store?” “Why wait one month when you could have it now?” etc. etc. But making homemade liquor requires actually very little active time and is quite easy. And, of course, there is such satisfaction when your own hands and time go into the process. I enjoy something so much more when it is a creation rather than a product. Watching others enjoy and savor is even better.
This can be drunk after dinner (or before dinner, or at lunch, or in the morning) as a dessert liquor. It can also be mixed with champagne or sparkling wine for a great cocktail. Garnish with pomegranate seeds or a wedge of orange. (I use orange zest to flavor the liquor).
I added orange zest and star anise the second time I made this and it improved the flavor of this drink. The acidity from orange instead of just lemon adds another dimension of acidity. Star anise adds an almost spicy liquorice taste. It comes in powder form, but I prefer to use the star-shaped, rust colored fruit in its entirety.
***Brief interlude of star anise info-Star Anise is a fruit native to China and Vietnam, but now grows in southern China and Japan. Its star shape ranges from 5-10 point sections. It is picked from trees before it is ripe, and then dried. The flavor is much more pungent than anise seed or fennel seed. It is wonderful to use in mulled wine, rice, rice puddings, meat marinades, and fruit salads (among other things).
Okay, back to the recipe. After a few variations, this is my favorite method and recipe for Pomegranate Liquor:
MADE WITH MY OWN HANDS POMEGRANATE LIQUOR
You will need:
- 1 large sterilized glass jar that can be sealed tightly
- 2 cups of “base” liquor like vodka or gin
- one strip of lemon zest and two strips of orange zest- without white pith
- 2 pieces of star anise
- 5 large, heavy, firm pomegranates (you may only need 3 or 4, but get 5 just in case)
- Cut Pomegranate in half.
- With a presser or any kind of handy juice strainer, extract as much juice as you can. You need to end up with 10 ounces of pom. juice
- Put juice (with its pulp- but NO white pith or rind allowed) in the glass jar, and add to it the vodka, and lemon and orange zest.
- Seal jar TIGHTLY
- Steep this mixture for at least 2 weeks and up to 4 weeks in a cool, dark space. Turn over every few days.
You will need:
- A strainer
- 1 1/4 cup Sugar
- 2/3 cup Water
- a 2nd bigger glass jar if needed
- Strain the pomegranate-vodka mix- do not squeeze too hard.
- Boil the sugar and water together until it dissolves- let cool
- Add syrup to pomegranate-vodka mix and seal quickly in a bigger jar now if necessary.
- Let steep for 3 weeks to 1 month.
- Bottle. I like to add a few fresh pomegranate seeds to the bottle-this is a lovely little decoration.
You can of course decorate your bottle in many ways, and give as a gift- Make your own design into stickers, wrap and tie with colorful twine, etc. Play with textures and colors.
*note- if there is “sludge” at the bottom of the liquor, just take all the clear liquid from the top to bottle and leave the sludge behind.
When I take my first drink on Christmas, I will let you know how it turns out. Ask me any questions you like, and let me know how it turns out for you!
“clink”- Stin Iyia Mas! (A Greek toast- To Our Health)