For the pomegranate syrup base
Cut the oranges in half and use a citrus juicer to extract the juice.
On a firm surface, roll the pomegranates back and forth, applying some pressure, so that the seeds inside burst. Don’t apply too much pressure as this will cause the skin to split. Then make a hole in the pomegranate and pour the juice into a container.
This method does not yield as much juice as the method described under “Notes about Recipe.” However, the seeds are not completely crushed this way so that the bitter substances don’t get into the juice as is the case when you use a citrus juicer.
For this step, use 450 ml freshly squeezed pomegranate juice and 150 ml freshly squeezed orange juice. Pour both carefully through a sieve into a larger saucepan.
Add the sugar to the saucepan with the juice mixture and then slowly bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
For the flavoring
Add the natural vanilla extract and star anise. Let the flavored juice mixture cook 25-30 minutes on medium heat until the desired syrup-like consistency is achieved and the mixture has cooked down to about 250 ml.
Stir the mixture occasionally during this process.
Remove the star anise and use a skimmer to skim off any sugar foam that has formed. Then pour the hot Pomegranate Syrup with Orange and Vanilla Flavor directly into a bottle with an airtight seal and cap.
Pomegranate Syrup with Orange and Vanilla Flavor can be diluted and served as a refreshing beverage or used to flavor a wide variety of dishes.
Use syrup sparingly: Since it is highly concentrated, you only need to use smaller amounts of the syrup in order to notice a difference in taste in the recipe you are using it for.
Bitter taste using a citrus juicer: Using a citrus juicer is a way to obtain more juice from the pomegranates, but the juice is then somewhat bitter. This is because small pieces of pith get into the juice during the juicing process. These coat the seeds and the many bitter substances they contain then influence the taste of the juice.
Easy way to deseed pomegranates: It works best to cut the pomegranate in half and place in a bowl with cold water. Then use your fingers to release the seeds. They will immediately sink to the bottom of the bowl and the white pith will float to the top. This way you can easily remove the pith and strain out the pomegranate seeds. There are several YouTube videos that clearly explain and show how to use this method to deseed a pomegranate.
Increasing the amount of juice: You can remove the seeds in a water bath and then blend with an immersion blender. This method will prevent any bitter substances from getting into the juice and will also result in an increased amount of juice. However, the pomegranate seeds will be destroyed in the process and you won’t be able to use them for other purposes.
Check the consistency: While the syrup is cooking, you can stir the mixture and then hold the spoon in the air and let the mixture drip off. This way you can tell if the syrup has reached the desired consistency. If it is thick and sticky as are commercial syrups, then the consistency is just right.
Canning syrup: For canning (bottling), it works well to use standard bottles with twist-off caps.
Vanilla bean pods: You can use vanilla bean pods in place of vanilla extract. Since the taste is less intense, you may want to use up to 2 bean pods. Cut the bean pods open lengthwise in the middle and then collect the pulp by scraping it out with a knife. Then add the vanilla along with the sugar and star anise, making sure to remove the star anise at the end before serving.
Bitter taste: If you want to make a somewhat more bitter version of the syrup without the vanilla, you can leave out the vanilla and for the given recipe size use the juice from ¼ of a lemon.
Classic Pomegranate Syrup: The classic version of this recipe is made without orange, star anise, and vanilla. You will need a total of six pomegranates in order to have a yield of about 600 ml of pomegranate juice. Increase the sugar to 250 g to neutralize the leading bitter taste. Depending on the method you are using (e.g., a citrus juicer), you may be able use only four pomegranates. The recipe for this version can be found under the following link: Classic Pomegranate Syrup.
Quick version: If you would like shorten the preparation time required, you can purchase pomegranate juice and use this instead of the pomegranates called for in the recipe. Depending on the ingredients in and variety of the juice, the taste of the final product may be somewhat different. Pomegranate juice can usually be found in larger supermarkets and from beverage retailers as well as in many Middle Eastern stores. When you are buying grenadine, it is important to determine the actual percentage of pomegranates it contains.