I’ve got the bug – the preserving, gift making, home brewing, bottling bug. It began when I made the Purple Fig and Pomegranate Jam from Salt Sugar Smoke. I realised then, with a few simple instructions, how easy it was to preserve – the process was no longer shrouded in mystery. I was also lucky enough to get some expert tips from Vanessa Kimbell whilst making greengage jam, which I’ll be posting about soon. Next came the Rumtopf, or the spiced rum soaked fruit and now, influenced by my Polish roots and partiality to vodka, I’ve been making these gorgeous little bottles of Pomegranate and Vanilla Vodka. Having followed Vanessa’s adventures and recent trip to Uganda, I now always look out for and use Fairtrade Ndalli vanilla. By complete coincidence (although you won’t believe me) when I placed the bottle, pomegranate and ribbon on the table, they arranged themselves exactly like this – two heart shapes. The kink in the ribbon was entirely natural, it must have been the way it was wrapped.
This vodka is so easy to make, I promise you. I’ve seen a few pomegranate vodka recipes, in particular this one in Woman and Home, but I haven’t seen the combination of pomegranate and vanilla and I thought it would work well. A little bit of ribbon and a homemade gift tag, and you’re well on your way to making your own Christmas gifts.
There is one really important thing to remember when preserving or making bottled gifts – you must sterilize your jars or bottles (and funnels, if using) but this is easy.
How to sterilize your equipment/bottles and jars
Boil them in plain water
Wash them in hot soapy water then put them in the oven (lids, too) at 170 degrees Celsius
Put them through a dishwasher cycle
NB The Kilner bottles I used had plastic or rubber stoppers, so I put mine through a dishwasher cycle rather than in the oven. Jam lids are usually fine in the oven. Fill your bottles or jars when they are still hot.
The alcohol preserves the fruit, but I also always use spirits which are 40% ABV.
Pomegranate and Vanilla Vodka
This makes enough for 3 x 250ml bottles or a large 1 litre preserving bottle
- 120g or 2/3 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (roughly the amount from one large pomegranate or a packet)
- 3 Fairtrade vanilla pods (I used Ndalli pods)
- 75cl bottle vodka (40%ABV)
- 220g or one cup sugar
- 240ml or one cup water
- Sterilize your bottles and funnel, if using (see above for How to Sterilize tips)
- Put the pomegranate seeds and vanilla pods into sterilized bottles or one large litre Kilner jar. Carefully pour in the vodka.
- Put the sugar and water in a pan, boil for a few minutes until the sugar dissolves. Leave to cool slightly.
- Pour the cooled sugar syrup into the vodka and shake well. Store in a cool, dark place and shake every few days.
- Before drinking or giving as a gift, strain the vodka into a newly sterilized bottle or container, removing the pomegranate seeds.
- Pour the strained vodka into three smaller sterilized bottles, adding a pod to each one and a few fresh pomegranate seeds.
After just a couple of days, the vodka has turned a beautiful translucent peachy colour. When you shake it, you see pretty specks of vanilla.
Exciting – my first photo taken with a macro lens!
I’m sending this across to Laura and Nazima’s One Ingredient Challenge, this month hosted by Laura at How to Cook Good Food with the challenge of using The Pomegranate.
Have you been getting a head start on making any Christmas gifts yet?
Other Christmas gift posts you may like –
- Polish Spiced Christmas Cookies
- Rumtopf or Rum Pot – Rum Spiced Fruit & Liqeuer
- Christmas Cocktails and Canapes
- Chocolate Snowflakes and Fairy Cakes
- Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cupcakes
- Christmas Tiramisu Trifle
Liz Thomas says
Drained this off and tasted it on Christmas eve and quite honestly was not that impressed. Quite nice, predominately vanilla but a little sweet, very pale and a bit bland, so just put it back in the cupboard, and we didn”t get around to it at all on Christmas Day.
A friend came round two evenings ago and we broached it again. Some kind of sorcery has taken place. The colour has deepened into a sort of amber pink, the flavours have really rounded out and the vanilla is much more subtle now. Best of all is the aroma! It’s amazing — I keep just opening the decanter to have a sniff. Is this substance abuse !!
Graham got two beautiful pomegranates in China yesterday (for roughly 1 pound 50 p — can’t beat that) so I am all set to go with another batch with Easter in mind.
Did you get a chance to try the Orange Wine out of Diana Henry’s book? It has turned out beautifully too.
Happy New Year.
The recipe makes a little too much to fit into a one liter Kilner jar. I had about a quarter cup of syrup left over, but it looks very pretty after just a few hours. I don’t know where you get your pomegranates; the ones here are very large and 2/3 cup is about 1/4 of a pomegranate 🙂
Glamorous Glutton says
The vodka looks wonderful, how long do you leave it before decanting into the gift bottles. Such a pretty gift idea. GG
As long as you’ve got, 2-3 weeks will be fine x
Liz Thomas says
This sounds lovely! But I have a question. Do you need to crush or prick the seeds so that the juice leaches out? Like you do for sloe gin?
Hi Liz, no you don’t have to. If you use fresh pomegranate seeds, some of the seeds burst naturally as you get them out. It leaves a trail of lovely juice so try and add it all into the bottle. The seeds that stay in tact very quickly lose colour, so the just must seep out naturally. That’s why I suggest draining them out and adding fresh pomegranate seeds just as you give it as a gift. You could score the vanilla pod if you like to take some of the beans out and add them in – it will just be more speckly! x
Liz Thomas says
Thanks so much Ren. I saw pomegrantes in the village shop this morning (I live in the Chinese village of Coloane, Macau, and our two little village shops are great). I’ve got lovely vanilla from Bali and there’s vodka on the shelf so I am set to go. I’m just starting my Christmas preparations, originally it was just me and my husband with nowhere to go so a quiet lunch out somewhere, but other waifs and strays have come out of the woodwork so now it’s a full blown affair for six of us! The Pomegranate Vodka is sure to be a hit!
I’ve also got a batch of Orange Wine from Salt Sugar Smoke on the go (I do so envy you having met Diana Henry, she’s such a wonderful writer) and I’m keen to try the Krupnik, which I remember from years ago when our local pub in Rhoscolyn, North Wales (where I am originally from) was run by a Polish gentleman.
Ooh I may just have to make this Ren – reckon my family and friends would love it – more to the point so would I!!
Thanks Katie, I think it would sit very happily in your kitchen x
I could just have a bottle of this on the go at all times. Wonder if you keep it in the fridge or freezer at all? I never know but seem to remember always keeping a bottle of chilli vodka in the freezer in my twenties!
The idea of vanilla and pomegranate together is superb. I doubt I would be able to give any away though….far too good. Also, would love to know your preferred brand of vodka if you don’t mind!
Thanks so much for entering One ingredient with this 🙂 xx
Hi Laura, you can keep it in the freezer once you’ve made it and let it sit for a couple of weeks. The vodka won’t freeze but it might be better to drain the pomegranate seeds. Then you can just serve cold shots! Looking forward to the One Ingredient round up x
keep… give… keep… give… keep… give… it’s too hard!
I know! Have just made some more…to keep!
Andrea Mynard says
This looks fabulous, so attractive and festive. Wonderful pics. Feeling very shoddy now that I’ve only made enough elderberry gin and blackberry whiskey for us! Have just been thinking about what edible presents I can make and very Diana Henry inspired at the moment. Have you tried her pumpkin achar? It’s so delicious, great with chicken.
Thank you Andrea. Your elderberry gin and blackberry whiskey sounds amazing! I have lots of blackberries, and brandy, perhaps I could do something with those. Haven’t tried Diana’s pumpkin achar but I’ll check it out x
In a word, wow. I will definitely be making this for Crimbo pressies (and one for self, obvs). Easy and does the job, what’s not to like. I like doing alcohol preserves, usually sloe gin, but this sounds absolutely heavenly. I have also adapted the Earl Grey drink made for us at FBC by the Whisk team – vodka rather than gin. I can highly recommend that too. Great shot with your fancy new lense!
Thanks Kellie, I’ve never made slow gin, am determined to one year, I just never seem to find any. They must be around though. I’ll ask my local foragers to take me. Love the sound of the Earl Grey drink, can’t remember whether I tried it or not, was jusr leaving as the cocktails came out!
This looks absolutely beautiful with all those ruby red seeds collected at the bottom. I often make homemade cookies and chocolates at Christmas but have never made my own drinks – this is top of the list now!
Thank you 🙂 Very simple to make. I’ve just seen your Alternative Mince Pies – now they are FIRMLY on the top of my list now!