Today I want to give a little bit of love to an overlooked fruit- the pomegranate! Since the season they are harvested is upon us, and will be until about February, it makes sense to give a pomegranate a try this season. I tend to eat them by the handful on their own, but they are so versatile and work well as a topping for salads, oatmeal, yogurt, or even in your favorite cocktails- champagne and pomegranate arils? Yes please.
I will confess- I only started eating pomegranates a couple of years ago; I wasn’t familiar with them and deemed them too high-maintenance for the tiny little seeds that seemed rather insignificant. Granted, I had never eaten the wonderfully sweet-tart crunchy little seeds (called arils) that pop in your mouth and provide a delicious flavor and texture; once I tried them, I was hooked. But then came the real “problem”- how to cut it open and remove those hundreds of arils from flesh on the inside? It just seemed like too much work, until I figured out the perfect process… it does require a bit more effort, than say, cutting an apple, but the little bit effort yields a great reward.
Let’s get to why you should even eat these pretty little arils in the first place. Pomegranates have been deemed a “super food” and contain antioxidants, polyphenols, potassium and fiber. These attributes allow them to aid in digestion, strengthening the immune system, and aid in reducing inflammation which is the root cause of many illnesses including cancer and arthritis; they have even been shown to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. I don’t like giving any one food a complete health-halo, but adding pomegranates, along with other nutrient-rich foods to your diet will surely improve your health and hopefully keep that immune system of yours strong, especially in these upcoming winter months.
So, now that I’ve (hopefully!) convinced you to try a pomegranate onto how to open this thing. My approach is to do all the work up front and then to enjoy the fruits of your labor (literally)… also this is the best way to avoid a mess staining your hands, clothes, kitchen walls, etc.
-a sharp knife
-a sink- with a large bowl of cold water
-an apron, a dark colored shirt, or old t-shirt — basically not your nicest wool or cashmere sweater as pomegranate juice can stain
-a mesh colander (*optional but recommended)
-a bowl/Tupperware to store them in
How to cut and de-seed:
1. Score (partially cut) the skin of the pomegranate the entire circumference of the fruit- you can cut all the way through if you’d like but this will pop some of the arils. For a visual:
2. Once scored, tear the pomegranate apart into 2 pieces
3. Take 1 of the 2 chunks of pomegranate and submerge under the cool water in your bowl that’s sitting in the sink. Carefully begin tearing apart the rind, freeing the arils from the rind and the skin inside. Basically just pick the arils free of the flesh. Allow the arils to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Throw away the rind and white flesh on the inside. Repeat with the 2nd half.
*note: the reason you’re doing this in water is to prevent the pomegranate juice from spraying everywhere and making a mess- you can choose to do this on your kitchen counter but you and your kitchen may end up looking like a crime scene. The flesh on the inside also tends to float to the top of the bowl of water making it easier to skim away.
4. Now that you have the arils free, skim the remaining flesh off the top of the water and pour the bowl into a colander to get rid of the access water. Pick any other bits of flesh out that may have been left behind.
5. You’re done- enjoy nature’s version of a sweet-tart! Eat on their own or put on a salad, in yogurt, a smoothie, oatmeal or a cocktail.
6. To store, transfer to a bowl or a Tupperware container and store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.