Pomegranates are a bit of a mystery, both in their physical form and in their mythological symbolisms. To crack open a pomegranate is a bit like breaking a geodethe, inside literally glitters with small, red, kernel-shaped seeds.
When purchasing a pomegranate, available in most grocery stores from September through January, choose fruits that are heavy for their size with a deep red color. The skin should seem thin, yet smooth and unbroken. As with all produce, avoid any molding around the stem.
Never cut directly into a pomegranate, this will cut through the seeds and make a very sticky, juicy mess, as pomegranates are well-known for their ability to stain anything and everything!
Make sure to have a clean, lined work area (newspaper, paper towels) to prevent spills and stains.
1. Using a sharp knife, cut each "end" off the pomegranate, as if you were starting to dissect an orange. Then gently score around the outer rind in quarters.
2. Using the tip of the knife, cut an "X" into the crown of the pomegranate where the stem was attached. (The end of the fruit that looked as if it has an "outie" bellybutton.)
3. Insert the point of the knife into the center of the "X", no more than an inch, and twist the knife. This should break the fruit into four or five sections.
4. Carefully pry the seeds from the skin and white membrane with your fingers. Rinsing the seeds in a strainer also will help remove stray pieces of white membrane. Some people find it helpful to remove the seeds under running water over a colander. Discard any broken or deteriorated seeds.
5. Store seeds in a food container. Seeds should keep for several weeks if stored in the refrigerator.
Although great for snacking on their own, pomegranates add wonderful color and texture to many recipes. Toss a handful into a green salad, or on a morning bowl of cereal or oatmeal, or try one of the quick recipes below.
Spruce up a fruit salad: Peel and slice 4 kiwifruit. Peel and section 2 oranges and 1 grapefruit. Toss with cup pomegranate seeds and cup chopped toasted walnuts. Drizzle with 1 Tbs. of honey and serve. Serves 4.
Cheer up a rice or couscous side dish: Prepare rice or couscous according to package directions. Before serving, toss in cup of goat or feta cheese, cup of pomegranate seeds and cup of toasted nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, almonds) and serve. Serves 4.
Make a pomegranate sundae: Heat 2 cups pomegranate juice* in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until juice has reduced to cup. Let syrup cool completely, and then add 2 Tbs. pomegranate seeds. Scoop vanilla ice cream into dessert bowls, and drizzle syrup on top. Serves 4.
*Pomegranate juice is readily available in most grocery stores, or you can squeeze your own. If purchasing juice, look for those that are 100% juice and do not have added sugar. Making syrup will naturally concentrate the sugars in the juice.