Have you found the perfect dinner recipe and it calls for pomegranate seeds, but you don’t have any ? Worse, they’re just out of season and no store carries them anymore ?
Then you’ll need a substitute, quick. Fortunately there are quite a few options when it comes to substituting pomegranates. Most of them are actually easy to find, so there’s no need to worry !
Best pomegranate substitutes
The best pomegranate substitutes are cranberries, red currants, sour cherries, and raspberries. Or, you can try pomegranate syrup or juice, or cranberry juice. Make sure to take the texture into account, since there needs to be some crunch added for good measure.
Depending on what you’re making, you may need fresh fruit, or dried, or preserves, or even just the juice of those fruits. But why the list above ? Well let’s see what pomegranates taste like, so we know what to look for.
Pomegranate seeds taste a little acidic or sour, and do have some sweetness to them. They’re a very fruity flavor, but since they’re not the sweetest it’s not easy to tell. The closest in terms of flavor are cranberries, currants, and sour cherries. This is why we’ve put them at the top of the list.
Good to know: if you are looking for a substitute for pomegranate juice, the list below can work as well just change the fruit with the juice from it. For example, if the substitute for pomegranate seeds is cranberry but you need a substitute for pomegranate juice, cranberry juice should work well. I hope you got the idea.
Sometimes though, they’re not easy to find so we’ve given you a few extra options. Now let’s take a look at them.
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Cranberries are easy to find, and even if you can’t find them raw you’ll definitely find them dried. If dried is fine, then use them like that. If you need them plump and juicy, you can rehydrate them with a little hot water. Let them sit for at least 15 minutes, or until they look and feel plump enough.
Red currants will almost always be available in their fresh form, and since they’re so small and shiny they could easily pass for pomegranate seeds. Well, not to someone who is taking a hard look at their meal. But at a glance they will fool anyone.
These are more sour than they’re sweet, which makes them a great substitute for pomegranate. There aren’t any big seeds though, so if you’re looking for some crunch we’ve got that section covered too.
Sour cherries don’t have that cherry taste, don’t worry. They’re like red currants and cranberries – rather sour, less sweet. This is why you can use them raw but they’re better off cooked and served as a sauce.
If you use them raw be sure to remove the pits, because there’s no way you can safely eat those.
And now we stray from the original flavor. Raspberries are way softer than pomegranate seeds, but they’ve got their own seeds which is a plus. They’ve got very similar colors and you can break them apart.
We recommend using fresh raspberries, as opposed to frozen or freeze-dried if you’re making a salad or using them as decoration. But if you’re cooking, then frozen raspberries will do just fine.
Pomegranate juice or syrup
Alright, what if you can’t find any actual fruit, at all ? Not canned, not dried, not preserved, nothing. Well then there’s always the option of buying pomegranate juice or syrup.
If you need to add just flavor, you can sprinkle on some syrup and get a nice effect. Keep in mind that the syrup will be sweet, so if you want it toned down you’ll need to make your own.
For this you can use plain pomegranate juice – there should be unsweetened versions available – and only sweeten it as much as you like. Simmer on low into it’s reduce to the consistency you want. The more you simmer it the thicker it will get, but only to a point.
Cranberry juice will work too
If you can’t find any pomegranate juice then cranberry or currant juice will work just as well. These are just as tart as pomegranates and will provide the same color to your dish, no matter what you’re making.
If you need syrup, grab a cranberry syrup or make your own by reducing the juice with sugar. This will work great for sweet and savory dishes, it doesn’t really matter what you’re making.
Add some toasted, crushed nuts for texture
If the substitutes you find have no crunch to them, and you really miss that, there’s a solution. Toast some nuts, like pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, even peanuts if you like.
Throw them whole or crush them a little, and you’ve achieved the crunchy texture you were looking for. In some ways this might even be better than the pomegranate seeds themselves, especially if you love toasted nuts.
A few ideas to keep in mind
Alright, now you have all the substitutes you need, and a few ideas on how to bring some crunch to the table if you feel there’s need. But what can we learn and do better next time ?
After all, there’s more than one recipe that uses pomegranates. If you think you really like pomegranates, then here’s a few ideas that can help you in a pinch.
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Freeze some pomegranate seeds for later
You can always save the day by freezing your own pomegranate seeds. When they’re in season and at their lowest price, grab a few pounds and bring them home.
Freeze a good portion of them, because pomegranates are in season only between October and January. This means that for 8-9 months you’ll need substitutes or the frozen seeds.
Its best to freeze your own and use them whenever needed. This way you can get the best lemonade or summer smoothie with some nice pomegranate, because you’ve stored some for later !
Any red berry will work in place of pomegranate
If you’re ever confused about what to use instead of pomegranate, remember the color red. In general fruits or veggies that look similar or have a similar color will also be similar in taste.
This isn’t always true, for example red apples taste different from strawberries. But cherries, sour cherries, raspberries, currants, cranberries all share a juicy, tart flavor.
Strawberries work well too, but they’re on the sweeter side and may not work the best for just any pomegranate recipe. Even so, remember to look for red berries and you’ll be fine. The reverse works too, you know. If you have no cranberries you can use pomegranates. Same if you have no raspberries or sour cherries.
Hopefully you’ve got all the substitutes you need, and managed to finish the dish on time. We’re sure it’ll be an absolute win !
So, we found out that there are many great alternatives for pomegranate seeds and juice. Mostly what works as a substitute for the seeds will work for juice as well since the taste of the juice and seeds is similar.