Pomegranates are that delicious red fruit that show up in stores during the fall season. They are also known as the Chinese apple. Unlike the regular apple, though, you actually eat the seeds. You can also eat the white pithy part surrounding the seeds, but you don’t eat the tough outer skin.
Though it takes some work, the tangy flavor and versatility of the pomegranate is a great addition to your fall and early winter menu.
Pomegranates are a superfood, too, meaning they are filled with lots of things that are good for you: vitamin C, antioxidants, and potassium among others. Their list of benefits include fighting cancer, improving dental health, and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
This guide will give you tips on selecting, cutting and how to eat pomegranate.
Selecting a Pomegranate
At the store, look for fruits that feel heavy for their size and otherwise undamaged. The skin is very thick, and does a great job of protecting the fruit, so a blemish here and there is completely fine.
Cutting the Fruit
Your best bet when it comes to pomegranates is putting a paper towel beneath the fruit, regardless of what surface you’re using. The juice stains almost anything it touches and the paper towel will help to absorb some of it as you cut.
Cut off the top of the fruit, and then the bottom.
Now, imagine the fruit has four equal sections. You want to score the skin in all four of these sections. Don’t cut all the way through; just go deep enough to break the skin and get to the white pith. This way, you’re minimizing cutting into the juicy seeds.
The Dry Method
Next, pull the fruit apart, yielding the four sections.
Using your fingers, pull off the fleshy seeds and put them into a bowl. Bend the skin back to help you get more seeds away from the pith.
The Water Method
Or, if you prefer, fill a bowl with water and place the scored pomegranate in the bowl, with the water covering it as much as possible. Pull the fruit apart into the four sections and begin pulling the skin back from the seeds. That will help the white pith detach from the seeds and float to the top. The seeds will sink to the bottom.
Using the water method minimizes juice from squirting onto you or other surfaces.
Once you have separated the seeds, skim off as much pith from the surface of the water as you can; you can use a wire mesh to help capture more of it. Don’t worry if you don’t get every single piece, because you’re going to strain it.
Strain the Seeds
Pour the seeds (and water if you used the water method) into a strainer. Take off any remaining pith and rinse the seeds.
Eating the Pomegranate Seeds
At this point, you can place the seeds into a nice bowl and eat them as-is. Or, sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar on them to sweeten them a bit more.
But, you don’t have to stop there: you can use them in different recipes. Any recipe that calls for dried cranberries is a great candidate for using pomegranate. Use them in salads, as part of the stuffing for acorn squash, with nuts, crepes or even in salsa!
You can also use them in your favorite desserts: put them in whipped cream over pumpkin pie, over ice cream drizzled with caramel, or as part of a cobbler recipe.
Make Pomegranate Juice
If it’s juice you want, follow the procedure above to separate the seeds from the pith. Take the seeds and put a cup or two into a blender and then strain the juice with cheesecloth. Remember that the juice stains surfaces, so be careful as you blend.
Another way to make the juice is to roll a whole pomegranate on a hard surface while pressing firmly but gently. The seeds will pop, releasing their juice inside the fruit. Poke a straw or other utensil in the skin to release the juice.
Pomegranates are a great seasonal fruit and their versatility is making them a holiday favorite!
Featured photo credit: Sahand Babali via unsplash.com