Last weekend I noticed that the pomegranates that I had been waiting all year to ripen were now overripe. Many had burst open, and birds and bugs were having their way with the bright red seeds. Two months ago I looked at the then-green fruit and thought, What’s taking you so long? They listened, my attention turned elsewhere, and now I’d missed the peak.
I grabbed our ladder, went out to the tree and began picking. When it was over, I had filled a bright red 19 gallon bucket with some 30-40 pounds of fruit. Another 20 pounds was split, infested, bird-eaten—lost and left to rot on the tree.
The plan was to make a pomegranate cordial as I had last year. I had just read a story about the Slow Food movement, and realized that while we all support the movement, we support it in hopes that we will be able to buy the products of Slow Food makers in our local stores. In other words, we want to buy Slow Food as fast and conveniently as we buy everything else. Do we actually want to make Slow Food? That’s a different story. That’s the difference between praying ourselves, and having our rabbi or minister pray for us. It’s the difference between doing penance and buying an indulgence.
But there’s another category of Slow Food that is of a different order than the fastidiously made, laboriously produced meats and cheeses and vinegars you find in high end stores. That’s the DIY Slow Food: made from produce or animals you raise yourself, then wrested into product by your own hands, on your own time. It’s Slow Food money can’t buy, and it delivers a hard, eternal truth about Slow Food. It takes time. It takes patience. It’s really slow,
Rob’s Pomegranate Cordial
Wash ripe pomegranates. Submerge in a large bowl or tub of water. Cut open and with your fingers pry out the seeds. They will fall to the bottom of the bucket while the pith will rise to the top.
Scoop off and discard pith, drain all the water, then re-rinse seeds, drain well..
Using your hands, squeeze the seeds to extract the juice. Strain through damp cheesecloth, squeezing well.
Make a simple syrup by boiling water and sugar 1:1. Let cool.
Fill a clean bottle half way with juice. Add 1/8-1/4 syrup and the rest vodka. Shake and taste. Add more juice, syrup or vodka to balance flavor. It should be sweet, tart and juicy with a slight alcohol kick.
Seal and refrigerate a few days to mellow the flavors. Serve in cordial glasses, well chilled, or mix with Prosecco, champagne or white wine.
By the time I had finished, it was dark and cold and I woke up the next day with a fever. I suffered for my craft.
Was it worth it? Served cold and straight up in small glasses, this cordial has a sweet, juicy tang, and delivers a warm and welcome buzz. My wife, who rarely drinks, threw down two glasses like a saloon cowboy. For all that effort, I made three bottles.
But it was worth it.