Pomegranate syrup and grenadine are similar products that are both made from pomegranate juice, but they are not exactly the same thing. The key differences are:
- Grenadine is a syrup made from pomegranate juice, sugar, and added flavorings. It has a very sweet, candy-like taste.
- Pomegranate syrup is made from reduced pomegranate juice, often with little or no added sugar. It has a tart, fruity taste that is closer to pure pomegranate juice.
- Grenadine is commonly used as a cocktail ingredient, while pomegranate syrup is more often used in cooking or as a table syrup.
- Grenadine typically contains high fructose corn syrup while pomegranate syrup does not.
- The ingredients and ratios vary between brands and recipes, so the taste can range from candy-like to lightly sweetened.
In summary, grenadine leans more toward a sugary, candy-flavored product, while pomegranate syrup tastes closer to fresh pomegranate with a lighter sweetness. But there can be overlap depending on the specific recipes used.
What is Grenadine?
Grenadine is a red-hued, syrupy liquid that has long been a staple ingredient in cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. The name “grenadine” comes from the French word for pomegranate, “grenade.”
Traditional grenadine syrup recipes are made by combining pomegranate juice with sugar and sometimes citrus juices or other flavorings. The pomegranate juice provides the vibrant red color and sweet-tart flavor, while the added sugar amplifies the sweetness.
However, most modern commercial grenadines contain no actual pomegranate juice. Instead, they are made from inexpensive high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, FD&C Red #40 dye for color, and citric acid for tartness. These mass-produced grenadines have a bright red color but lack the complex fruit flavors of real pomegranate grenadine.
Some key facts about grenadine:
- Typical modern grenadine contains between 15-30% high fructose corn syrup and less than 5% actual pomegranate juice.
- Homemade and artisanal grenadines may contain 100% pomegranate juice with additional sugar, citrus, herbs, and spices.
- The ingredients and ratios vary significantly between brands and recipes.
- Grenadine has a very sweet, almost candy-like flavor profile due to the high sugar content.
- It is commonly used in cocktails like the Tequila Sunrise, Shirley Temple, and others.
So in summary, grenadine as shoppers find it today is primarily a sugar syrup with pomegranate flavors and coloring added. It lacks substantial real fruit content. But homemade or specialty grenadine can include far more actual pomegranate juice.
Popular Brands of Grenadine
Some of the most popular mass-market grenadine brands include:
- Rose’s Grenadine – The most widely available grenadine, made with high fructose corn syrup and less than 5% pomegranate juice. Rose’s dominates the commercial grenadine market.
- Mr & Mrs T Grenadine – Another leading brand that contains high fructose corn syrup with artificial flavors and dye.
- Real Grenadine – An artisanal brand that uses filtered water, cane sugar, fresh pomegranates, lemon juice, and orange flower water. No artificial ingredients.
- Jack Rudy Grenadine – A handcrafted grenadine made with pomegranate molasses, cane sugar, and orange blossom water.
- Small Hand Foods Granadine – Uses grape juice, cane sugar, citrus, and pomegranate concentrate. Contains no high fructose corn syrup.
As you can see, ingredients vary widely between mass market brands like Rose’s versus specialty grenadines made with real fruit juices and less added sugar.
What is Pomegranate Syrup?
Pomegranate syrup is a thick, molasses-like syrup made primarily from pomegranate juice. It is produced by cooking down pure pomegranate juice into a reduced concentrate, often without any added sugars, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.
The highest quality pomegranate syrups are made with 100% fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice and no other additions. However, some recipes may include small amounts of sugar, honey, or other natural flavorings. The goal is to intensify the tart, fruity essence of the pomegranates.
Here are some key facts about pomegranate syrup:
- It is made by boiling down or simmering fresh pomegranate juice until much of the water content evaporates.
- The juice is reduced by 70-80%, leaving a thick, viscous syrup.
- No artificial colors, flavors, or stabilizers are added.
- May include lemon juice, honey, spices, or other natural ingredients in small amounts.
- Has a concentrated, fruity-tart taste much closer to raw pomegranates than grenadine.
- Used in Middle Eastern cuisine, drinks, desserts, and as a condiment.
So in summary, pomegranate syrup seeks to capture the pure, tart essence of fresh pomegranates in concentrated form with minimal adulteration. It packs a fruity, slightly sour punch.
Popular Brands of Pomegranate Syrup
Some reputable brands of real pomegranate syrup include:
- Cortas – 100% pure pomegranate syrup from California, kosher certified.
- Navand – Made from fresh Iranian pomegranates with no added sugar or preservatives.
- Sadaf – Product of Iran, straight pomegranate syrup with no additions.
- Arablicious – 100% natural pomegranate syrup from Lebanon.
- Tehran Market – Iranian syrup made from concentrated pomegranate juice.
These brands exemplify authentic pomegranate syrups that retain the fruit’s natural tart flavor without unnecessary adulterations. They differ greatly from commercial grenadine syrups.
How Grenadine and Pomegranate Syrup Differ
While both are derived from pomegranates, several key differences set grenadine and pomegranate syrup apart:
- Grenadine is primarily sugar, HFCS, and artificial ingredients, with a little pomegranate juice.
- Pomegranate syrup is almost entirely reduced pomegranate juice with minimal or no additives.
- Grenadine is very sweet with a candy-like flavor.
- Pomegranate syrup has just the natural sweet-tartness of the fruit.
- Grenadine is mainly a cocktail mixer and decorative syrup.
- Pomegranate syrup is used in Middle Eastern cooking, marinades, glazes, and dressings.
- Grenadine has a rich red color and sweet flavor, but lacks true depth.
- Pomegranate syrup delivers a pure, fruity-tart pomegranate punch.
- Grenadine achieves its bright red color from artificial FD&C dye.
- Pomegranate syrup gets its rich ruby color solely from the natural fruit.
So in summary, grenadine prioritizes color, sweetness, and versatility in cocktails, while pomegranate syrup focuses on natural fruit flavor and culinary uses. But there can be some overlap between syrupy, juice-based grenadine recipes and very lightly sweetened pomegranate syrups.
Are They Interchangeable in Recipes?
Due to the significant differences in their flavor profiles and uses, grenadine and pomegranate syrup are not perfectly interchangeable in recipes.
However, they can sometimes be swapped depending on the specific brand and recipe:
- In cocktails, candy-like commercial grenadine can often be replaced with an equal amount of minimally-sweetened pomegranate syrup.
- In cooking, pomegranate syrup may be able to replace grenadine, but the flavor will be much more tart and fruity.
- For desserts and sweet recipes, grenadine would likely be a better substitute for pomegranate syrup to maintain sweetness.
- Homemade or specialty grenadines with more real pomegranate juice can more closely mimic the flavor of pomegranate syrup.
The most important factor is choosing a swap with a comparable sugar-to-fruit ratio. Otherwise the flavor balance may be off in recipes.
When substituting, also consider making small adjustments to other ingredients like sugar or citrus juice to compensate for differences in sweetness, tartness, or thickness.
It’s best to use grenadine and pomegranate syrup in recipes specifically calling for them. But in a pinch, they can potentially replace each other with a few tweaks to rebalance the flavors.
How to Make Your Own Grenadine and Pomegranate Syrup
It’s easy to make homemade grenadine or pomegranate syrup using 100% fresh pomegranate juice.
Here are simple recipes to try:
- 1 cup pure pomegranate juice
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until sugar fully dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Homemade Pomegranate Syrup
- 4 cups 100% pomegranate juice
- 1-2 tbsp honey or sugar (optional)
- 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
Simmer pomegranate juice in a pan over medium-low heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 45 min. Remove from heat and stir in honey or sugar if desired. Add lemon juice for a touch of tartness if desired. Let cool completely before refrigerating. Will keep refrigerated for 4-6 weeks.
Making your own allows you to control the exact amount of sugar versus fruit flavors. You can also add creative spins like warming spices such as cinnamon, star anise, or cloves.
Which is Better – Grenadine or Pomegranate Syrup?
Whether grenadine or pomegranate syrup is “better” depends on the specific use:
- For cocktails, commercial grenadine is often preferred. The candy-like sweetness and bright red color lend well to cocktail mixing and presentation.
- For cooking, pomegranate syrup is superior. The light sweetness and concentrated fruit flavor is a boon for savory cooking applications like sauces, marinades, and glazes.
- For adding to drinks, homemade or specialty grenadines with a higher juice content can allow the pomegranate flavor to shine.
- For topping desserts, either can work depending on how much sweetness is desired. Grenadine is often better for very sweet desserts.
Pomegranate syrup clearly wins when authentic fruit flavor is needed. But commercial grenadine has its place when candy-sweetness and vibrant color are priorities, like in cocktails.
The best option is for consumers to understand the differences between products and choose the one best suited for each purpose.
While grenadine and pomegranate syrup are both derived from pomegranates, they are distinctly different products:
- Grenadine is primarily an artificial, sugar-sweetened red syrup with minimal fruit content. It is designed for cocktails and decoration.
- Pomegranate syrup is a lightly sweetened or unsweetened reduction of pure pomegranate juice, valued for its natural tart flavor.
- They have significant differences in ingredients, flavor profiles, colors, and ideal uses.
- The two cannot be perfectly substituted for each other in recipes, though swapping can work in some cases with proper adjustments.
- Homemade versions allow control over the fruit-to-sugar ratio.
- Which is “better” depends on whether candy-like sweetness or natural tart fruitiness is more important.
In today’s marketplace, be sure to read grenadine and pomegranate syrup labels closely to understand what you’re getting. Seek out brands using real fruit juices for better flavor.