Ice Wine Grenadine

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For a while I’ve been fascinated by the idea of concentrating liquids in the absence of heat. Heat tends to augment/destroy certain delicate flavors. It was explained to me that you can’t make strawberry eau-de-vie you can only make cooked strawberry eau-de-vie. The same is true of the pomegranate and is why I was thwarted in making my pomegranate triple-sec (the fruit expression sucked). Ideas sat in my head for a while and I was further dazzled by a honey called Melata di Bosco made, not from blossoms, but Alpine Spruce trees that get attacked by aphids. The bees collect the excess aphid secretions and you experience the concentrated soul of the tree without heat interfering. (maple syrup is created by reducing maple sap significantly. heats evaporates lots of flavor but also creates new ones) The honey is epic with the ironous, blood and spruce pineyness making you feel the trees’ sorrow.

All this time I’ve been waiting for pomegranate season to see if I could really find their soul. All the pomegranate juice you buy is pasteurized, cooking the flavor into a vegetal stew-y mess that also destroys the seductive fuchsia color. In making grenadine most people also concentrate the extract of their juice by reducing it with heat. Like maple syrup, flavors are lost and flavors are created, but I’d say more is lost.

My plan was to use the Ice Wine Technique to concentrate the flavor. I was going to simply juice fresh pomegranates, freeze concentrate the juice one iteration, hopefully increasing extract potency by at least 50% and finally sugar to approximately 400 g/L. (a 400 g/L syrup is a great contrast for an equal volume of lemon or lime juice)

A friend told me that I could simply quarter the fruit and put it through a lemon juicer. It worked pretty well but I deviated slightly by using the “flat on flat” adapter on my orange x brand juicer instead of the usual cone in a cup mechanism. The fruit I got was smaller than normal and I was still able to extract 2 oz. of juice per pomegranate. I froze the juice in half quart containers then let 50% of the juice thaw (I poked holes in the container) into a one cup sized container (the frozen juice separates from the thawed juice through the holes or by just opening the lid and dumping into the new container what thaws). What was separated was mostly a plug of clear slush from juice that tasted significantly more concentrated. I forgot to test the starting sugar content but my post thaw sugar content was 19.5 brix. (I think pomegranate juice is usually in the low teens) I brought it up slowly to 32 brix (400 g/L) by stirring in white sugar and remeasuring. (It took less than 5 minutes to hit my mark perfectly)

(I tested the end results of my second batch and the 50% I kept had a brix of 22 while the 50% I discarded had a brix of 3.5 which mean I probably started at 12 brix. A killer boost of concentration for one iteration! sugar doesn’t mean much when I’m really looking for extract but I think I can assume it follows suit)

I didn’t have any fresh eggs but wanted to make something pink lady esque for my first drink.

.75 oz. lemon juice
.75 oz. Ice Wine Grenadine
.5 oz. cognac
1.5 oz. tanqueray gin

For starters the color is mind blowing. I’ve never witnessed a drink with a prettier hue. The tonal qualities of the grenadine are amazing. The simple familiar contrast of the gin and cognac really elevate the unique fruit expression. The sugar ethic is perfect as well to maximize flavor enlivenment. Delightful.

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16 thoughts on “Ice Wine Grenadine

  1. so i’ve made this recipe quite a few times and its pretty fast if you’ve got the right tools. right now to juice the pomegranites, i use a acme centrifugal juicer. you can break down all the seeds from the pomegranite pretty fast after you’ve done it a couple times and the acme gives you a nearly 100% juice yield unlike the standard lemon juicer which leaves a decent amount of unbroken seeds. the acme does break all the seeds but any bitter principle or potential flaw doesn’t seem to be soluble. i feed everything into the juicer using my giant shielded brewers funnel. a few minutes to get a lot of juice at a good cost basis.

    i feel that its easy to make grenadine over concentrated with too much extract. so i’m only shooting for 50% more concentrated rather than 100%. using the juices’ sugar content as a guide you can tell where you are in seconds with a refractometer. then i just stir in more sugar to hit 400g/l. which contrary to popular belief doesn’t take 10 minutes. more like 90 seconds of stirring.

    i never add extra contrasts like vanilla or orange flower water. i want to pick my own contrasts when i mix a drink. i don’t like to inherit flavors that i’m not always going to want. you can always add a dash of a simple orange bitter like angostura or hermes.

    i don’t use this for a bar program at the moment but i bet i could if i had the freezer space to keep just a couple concentrates to blend in with the unconcentrated. i’ve never seen a program that used more than four liters a week of grenadine.

  2. It actually didn’t seem clear for me, what the actual process is… you freeze pomegranate juice and than let it thaw [in a container with holes] – but then: what are you discarding; on which stage?

    I actually find juice extractors yielding to a quite bitter, “tanniny” taste – so I think a normal juice is the better choice…

    And it is not really true, that you cannot do a strawberry eau de vie… you’ve only trouble to make strawberry eau de vie with the conservative distilling methods. Though if you use for example a vacuum distillation, the juice doesn’t need to be that much heated [depending on the vacuum] and the fresh strawberry taste would stay… but who wants to have a strawberry eau de vie???

  3. i want a strawberry eau-de-vie. i want that peak of the season aroma locked in time. you can get strawberries year round but not like our peak of the season local ones.

    hopefully some day vacuum distillation will be easier to come by. but who knows, it may not even get the temperature low enough.

  4. I have seen, that traditional eau de vie producer – especially in Alsace – have eau de vie de fraise and eau de vie de fraise de bois – these are strawberry eau de vie and wood strawberry eau de vie.

    They might taste a little jam-y – but at least, you don’t have to wait for vacuum distillers…

    And well – it all depends on how high the vacuum is. The “normal” vacuum distillation apparatus is distilling at around 40 degree centigrade. Though if you would make the vacuum “higher” you could even distill at room temperature or even lower. One other problem might not only be the distillation, though as well the fermentation.
    I can think, that strawberry wine doesn’t taste as fresh as fresh strawberries. The solution would be a maceration of strawberries in neutral alcohol, which would be then vacuum distilled. Though the effort might be a bit too high, to justify…

  5. here is a great paper on freeze concentration for very small scale commercial applications.

    The method of freezing is based on the fact that juice can be extracted from ice–if you’ve ever made a fruit juice popsicle and sucked on it too hard, you remember that you sucked all the flavor out and had a pure ice-sicle left on the stick.
    Here’s how to use that method.
    Freeze your juice.
    Place frozen juice block in a funnel, sieve or collander on top of a container that can hold all of the juice. Let sit at room temperature while the juice drips out. When the ice is sufficiently clear/white, you’re done. Throw out the ice and keep the concentrated juice.
    Repeat freezing/thawing as necessary.

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