Browsing through the supermarket ice cream freezer for your usual vanilla or chocolate chip, some new flavors catch your eye: California pomegranate, vanilla with pomegranate swirl, pomegranate with dark chocolate chips. Being adventurous, you schlepp one home. Mmm. Delicious.
Fast forward to next week. You’re shopping in the fruit and vegetable section when you spy a reddish gourd-like fruit with a little crown on top. A pomegranate! Remembering the yummy ice cream, you reason that eating the real thing has to an equal treat. You select one and slip it into your cart.
So far, so good.
The pomegranate sits on your kitchen counter, teasing you. You pick it up and turn it over in your hands, wishing it had come with instructions. The thick skin is nothing like an apple. Apples you understand. But pomegranates – how do you get inside the thing?
Like many pomegranate newbies, you decide to go the insert-a-knife route. What can be so hard? You pick out a sharp, long-bladed knife, hold the mystery fruit firmly on a cutting board, and forcefully insert the knife. Caution: if you try this, don’t wear a white shirt. In fact, maybe you shouldn’t wear a shirt at all, because this is what happens next: As soon as the thick skin is pierced, the pomegranate explodes in seeds and juice.
Now that your pomegranate opening initiation is behind you, get yourself to the Internet and check out sites that describe the best way to get inside the intractable fruit. Your search will likely take you to www.pomwonderful.com, a marketer of — and authority on — pomegranates. Here’s what they advise:
- Cut off the "crown," then score the outer layer of skin into sections.
- In a large bowl of water, break apart the sections along the score lines. Roll out the arils (the sweet juice sacs surrounding a tiny edible seed) with your fingers. The arils will sink to the bottom while the white membrane floats to the top.
- Strain out the water. The arils are ready to eat whole, seeds and all.
Eating a pomegranate
It’s finally open. You’ve followed instructions and now have a bowl of tantalizing pomegranate seeds in front of you. You dip in a teaspoon, and pop a few seeds into your mouth, waiting for a delicious, sweet reward for all your work. Oh, oh! You’re in for another surprise.
The seeds taste juicy when you first bite into them – but the taste quickly turns sour. That’s not all. They instantly dry up, making your mouth shrivel.
How, you ask, could this bitter, puckery fruit morph into delicious ice cream? The secret is to combine the pomegranate with other flavors to make it palatable, yielding the juiciness without the follow-up dryness.
So, why bother? Why not just drink orange, or apple, or cranberry juice? It’s worth the effort because pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than blueberry, cranberry, and orange juices. It contains three times the antioxidant properties of red wine or green tea. Even without antioxidants, it’s still full of nutrition, providing 40 percent of an adult’s RDA (recommended daily allowance) of vitamin C. It’s a rich source also of folic acid and vitamins A and E.
Even though juice is the most popular use of the pomegranate, you can, in fact, use those seeds (arils) for something besides juice.
- A tablespoon or two tossed into a salad will make ordinary greens look and taste exotic.
- Top your ice cream or sundae with arils instead of the usual cherry.
- Sprinkle them over dry cereal or stir them into oatmeal to give your morning a wake-up call.
- Stir a few arils into yogurt to liven up the taste.
- Arils make a gorgeous garnish for chicken or rice dishes.
Or try a recipe like this one from 1001recipes2send.com:
2 ripe avocados, peeled and pits removed
1 pomegranate’s seeds
1/2 cup diced cucumbers
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
assorted tortilla chips
Dice avocados. Fold in pomegranate seeds, cucumber, green onion, and cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss with lemon juice. Serve with tortilla chips.