How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranate

Updated, originally posted 2006.

Late October, early November is the season for pomegranates, pinkish red orbs filled with crunchy, juicy seeds (known as arils), bursting with flavor. You can get them at most supermarkets, but if you live anywhere near where they are grown, it’s best to get them at a local farmer’s market. Here you are most likely to find the ripest pomegranates – the ones whose peels are beginning to crack open, their plump, ripe seeds expanding beyond the peel’s ability to contain them.

My parents have a big, beautiful pomegranate tree that fills with fruit every autumn. We wait until the last possible moment to harvest them, so their seeds have time to ripen to a deep red burgundy. Over the years we’ve experimented with pretty much every way possible to open and de-seed them.

Some people cut them in half through the middle and use a wooden spoon to whack the arils out of the pomegranate. We have never found this method particularly effective with our pomegranates. It can be rather messy, and ends up bruising a lot of the seeds, especially if they are ripe and juicy. What follows is the method that we’ve settled upon, which, if done well, results in not one broken seed, and takes hardly any time at all.

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How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranate

Method

1 Pomegranate juice stains. So before you begin to cut into one, make sure you are wearing something that you don't care too much about, like an old t-shirt. The juice will stain a wood cutting board (you can use vinegar or lemon juice to get the pink out) so you may want to cut on a plastic cutting board. Work close to the sink, making cuts and then moving the pomegranate over a large bowl to open.

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2 With a sharp knife, slice 1/4-inch off of the stem end of the pomegranate and place the pomegranate cut side down on the cutting board to stabilize it. The pomegranate's blossom end, the one that looks like a crown, should be on top.

open-de-seed-pomegranate-3 open-de-seed-pomegranate-4

3 Use a paring knife to cut a circle, angling in, around the crown of the pomegranate, cutting it out.

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4 Notice the gentle ridges along the outside of the pomegranate. Use your knife to cut along those ridges, just through the red part of the pomegranate skin, from blossom end to stem end. You should make about 6 cuts. If you can't feel the ridges, don't worry about it, just make several gentle cuts (not so deep as to cut any of the seeds underneath) from top to bottom around the pomegranate.

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5 Use your fingers to gently pry open the pomegranate. It should open easily, exposing the seeds (more accurately called arils). Continue to open the sections, if you've made 6 cuts, you can pry open 6 sections.  It helps to work near or over a large bowl, so that as you open the fruit, any loose seeds find there way to the bowl.

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6 Working over a bowl, use your fingers to pry away the seeds from the peel and membranes. If you like, you can fill the bowl part way with water. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the water while pieces of membrane will float to the top, making it easier to separate the membranes from the seeds. If you are concerned about staining your counter top, you can pry open the pomegranate and remove the seeds underwater.

Once you are done stripping the pomegranate seeds from the skin and membranes, skim the membranes from the top of the water, and strain the seeds from the water.

Put the seeds into a serving bowl and munch away. Remember to be careful about where you are eating them. Seeds falling onto a light carpet and then getting squished will cause staining. Eat immediately or store chilled in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

If you want to make juice from the seeds, pulse a cup at a time in a blender, just enough to break the seeds, and then use a rubber spatula to push the juice through a fine sieve. Add sugar to desired sweetness level. 2 large pomegranates will generally yield 1 cup of juice.

Note that pomegranates are very acidic and will react with metals such as aluminum or carbon steel.

How to freeze pomegranate seeds

Once you have de-seeded your pomegranate, make sure the seeds are dry. Arrange them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper. Place in freezer for 2 hours or until frozen. Once frozen, put them into a freezer bag or container and store them in the freezer.

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75 Comments

  1. Wendy

    At our house, we use these same steps, but do all of this in either a large bowl full of water or a sink full of water. This really helps cut down on the splatters. Of course, I cannot eat dinner without wearing it.

    • Sid UK

      I have recently graduated from using this method of de-seeding a pomegranate, then I found a better quicker method. Take off the stem of the fruit and score the skin around the pommy, pull it apart and hold one half, open end down in your cupped hand and bet it soundly with a large wooden spoon or similar and the seeds will fall out into the large bowl you are holding it over. This method means you can get all the seeds out in about ten seconds, then all you need to do is pick out the white pith that has also come away.

      • Elise

        Yes, many people use this method. I have never found this to work well with our pomegranates, as the beating action ends up bruising some of the fruit. This is okay if you eat the all of the seeds from the pomegranate right away, but if you store them at all, they don’t last as long. I have also seen the technique you mention demonstrated effectively with pomegranate seeds that dislodge easily. Ours never have, and you end up having to really whack the heck out of the pomegranate, causing a bit of a mess and bruising the seeds.

        • Sid UK

          Yes Elise everything you say is true and I wouldn’t use the method I posted if I needed the seeds for decoration purposes, but so many people are put off trying pomegranates because of either the mess or the time involved in getting the seeds out. I posted the bashing method to try to get more people to eat the fruit getting the job done in double quick time. I hope we can agree that both methods have their uses.

          • Elise

            Indeed! I’ve also seen the method you describe used very effectively with pomegranates where the seeds just fell out, with a light tap with a spoon.

      • Susan

        I did this method yesterday and it worked wonderfully! No mess, fast and easy! And spanking it with a spoon let me get my aggression out. lol.

      • C

        Yep – we beat ours too – works like a charm!! Make sure you DON”T CUT IT IN HALF or you’ll have a mess on your hands. Do like suggested above & only score it, & then PULL it apart.

  2. Elise

    “I cannot eat dinner without wearing it.”

    LOL!

    I love the way the one time I forget to wear my scuzzy T that’s when the spirit of Jackson Pollock invades my pomegranate.

  3. Rebecca

    I’ve never actually eaten a fresh pomegranate before; so what you’re saying is all you eat are the seeds and discard the rest?

    • Elise

      Yes, eat the seeds and compost the rest.

    • avis

      It makes sense when you open the pomegranate. The inside is pretty much all seeds. The volume of seeds is somehow larger than the original fruit. It’s a pomegranate miracle!

      • marcy

        HAHA a pomegranate miracle! My friend made salsa with these and it was totally amazing. I haven’t had them whereI could actually chew the seeds before. They’ve always been too tough. But the ones she had were amazing. Does that have to do with the age of the pomegranate?

  4. Cal

    I haven’t tried this, but my friends make Pomegranate Jelly and juice using a electric citrus juicer (Waring). Cut them in half and juice like an orange. Messy, but if you’re doing a lot, it does speed things up.

    • Elise

      I’ve made juice that way too. It is about 3 times as fast in terms of getting the juice. However, the juice isn’t quite as good as it ends up getting more of the bitterness of the membrane in it. So, if you really are picky for perfection, the seed-it-first method is the way to go.

  5. Matt

    There is an even easier method of deseeding a pomegranate…

    After cutting it in 1/2 hold the pomegranate cut side down over a large bowl and with the back of a large spoon, continually smack the pomegranate. All the seeds will come right out and should fall right into the bowl.

    • Elise

      Hi Matt, we have huge pomegranate tree and every year get dozens of pomegranates to process. I’ve seen that technique, but I have not been able to get it to work effectively with the pomegranates that we grow. Even if I can get most of the seeds out that way, what ends up happening is that many of the arils get bruised from the whacking and they don’t last as long. Many burst or break and splatter their juices everywhere.

    • Karen

      That’s how I do it too. Works the best for me! (The spoon & bang method).

  6. Nicole

    I’ve always loved pomegranates but they were only a rare treat when I was young. Because of the staining problem, we were only allowed to eat them occasionally and always had to put on some old clothes first!

  7. julie

    Ok this may be a stupid question, but do you eat the hard seed inside or spit it out? I tried eating them and it does kind of hurt my teeth.

    • Elise

      Hi Julie – great question! When I was a kid I always spit out the hard seed. Now as an adult, I just chew it with the entire pomegranate seed. To each her own.

  8. Charlotte

    I’ve just been putting a handful in my mouth, sucking the juice off the seeds, then spitting the seeds out. Kind of messy but really yummy. If you chew the hard part of the seeds and swallow them, are there any special nutrients obtained? I imagine they would be good for fiber (providing they don’t cause a blockage)

  9. Veronica

    Charlotte, I never spit the seeds out when I eat pomegranate, and I’ve done this for 30+ years. Swallowing them is not a big deal, and I’ve never had any problems. The seeds are somewhat soft, in fact, so they probably get digested. Eating the seeds whole is faster, and it does give you the satisfaction of eating the whole fruit. I don’t know anything about the nutritional content of the tiny pits, though. I suspect they contain a bunch of minerals and lots of fiber.

  10. Laura W

    Was glad to find directions on how to use the pomegranate I bought with a dollar off coupon!
    Love the juice taste, and don’t mind eating the nut-like seeds too.
    Going to have to try to freeze some seeds though, as can’t eat all that came from only one fruit!

  11. Frances

    I have tried all of the above methods for juicing pomegranates except beating with a spoon. By far the fastest way I have found is cutting the fruit in quarters and squeezing in the Wearever Orange squeezer I inherited from my mother. Place in the “bowl” and press down on the handle to squeeze the juice out. I put about 3 gallons of juice in my freezer last fall in quart baggies. We add it to other fruit juices to drink every morning with breakfast.

  12. Marylou Kadziela

    Thank you so much, what a great site!! My first pomengranate and it is sitting on the counter looking at me, was mocking me, but now I know how to handle it. What a wonderful site!!!

  13. Barb

    Ok, I must be the country cousin or something. I cut mine in half, and then score the rind and just pull off chunks. I take a chunk and pull back on both sides of the rind which pulls the membrane away from the seeds… and I just bite right in!! I do bite down on the seeds to crack them open but I have been spitting them out after the pulp is gone. Not as elegant as the rest of you… but quick and easy!

  14. lea

    Does anyone know for how long can the seeds be frozen? I’d like to enjoy them over the summer as well.

  15. Regena

    I make raspberry jelly when the season rolls around. Any comments as to making pomegranate jelly? I would strain out all of the seeds. Would you make it with the same proportions as raspberries? Alternatively I could put the juice into my marmalade. Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.

    Check out our recipe for pomegranate jelly. :-) ~Elise

  16. michelle

    Honestly, the best way I’ve found to enjoy pomegranate is to pour a nice hot bath, put a garbage bin or bowl next to the tub for the rind and membrane, get naked, and enjoy that pomegranate and soak. Doesn’t hurt to have a little vino too. Simple indulgence.

    • annette

      Michelle, Evidently I now have a reason to eat MORE pomegranates : ) I like your style & I love wine – I think we could be good friends : )

  17. Donna

    Thanks everyone for all of the suggestions for eating pomegranate. I have always seen them in the grocery but would never buy them because I did not know how to eat them. Now I can try them. Thanks for the help.

  18. therese coykenndall

    I bought 20 or more organic. They are so wonderful and healthy. I keep all the seeds in a frozen bag in the freezer and keep them as long as I want. Every morning I eat 2 or 4 tablespoon of seeds, eat the whole things, I enjoy the flavor I have enough for 3 to 6 months ahead. It is a delice fruit.

  19. Shelly

    I must have found a magic pomegranate because I spilled juice all over my counter (off white color) and it did not stain my counter one bit. It wiped right up, no staining, and the juice was so sweet no sugar needed at all!!

  20. ann

    It works even better and avoids the splatters if you fill a bowl or the sink with water and do it all under water. The bitter yellow skin part floats and the delicious seeds sink to the bottom where its easy to get them.

  21. dzheyn

    I open it a different way but this totally works tooo!!! thx!

    -DM

  22. Eileen

    This was soooo helpful! You mentored me through my first fresh pomegranate. Thank you! I was careful, but I still splashed pomegranate droplets all around my sink. Luckily no stains, but I can see why you were always sent outside to eat them as a kid. They are the perfect messy kid food!

  23. Allyssa

    omg i just ate my first pomegranate and it was wonderful no wonder all of my friends bring bags of them to school and just eat them throughout the day they are wonderful!!!!! i love them but i am kind of worried about eating the hard inner seed although i have been eating them anyways (to hard to resist) is it ok to eat it?

    Yes, it’s perfectly fine to eat the inner seed. We always do. No problem. ~Elise

  24. Kathy

    I recently bought pomegranate seeds from a produce market. How long are they good for once they’ve been taken out of the casing?

    You should probably eat them up within a few days. Store them in the fridge, covered, or they will quickly dry out. ~Elise

  25. Sassy J

    I love a combo of the seeds with diced mango. I put the seeds, sliced strawberries, and chocolate chips and almond slivers over raspberry sorbet. But one of my absolute favorite uses is this recipe. Everyone loves it–not every ingredient has to be included, but the dressing is crucial (dressing from Cooking Light–the rest I augmented).

    Strawberry, Pomegranate, Clementine, Spinach Salad

    Salad ingredients:
    Baby spinach
    Sliced strawberries
    Clementines in sections (or navel orange)
    Pomegranate seeds
    Feta cheese crumbled (optional)
    I like to toss the spinach only with the poppy seed dressing, then add the rest of the ingredients on top in individual portions.

    Poppy Seed Dressing:
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/4 cup vinegar (balsamic or red wine)
    1 1/2 teaspoons chopped onion
    1/4 teaspoon paprika
    1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 tablespoon poppy seeds

    Process first 5 ingredients for 30 seconds in a blender. With blender running, pour oil through food chute in a slow, steady stream, and process until smooth. Stir in poppy seeds. Keeps for weeks in the fridge. This salad is also very good in the summer—just impossible to add the pomegranate seeds.

  26. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com

    I’ve de-seeded this way before and have tried another way I discovered over youtube the other day. Just slit a pom all round and twist it to halve. Loosen the edges a little. Place the halve on your palm, with a bowl at the bottom. Using a wooden spoon, beat onto the pom until all seeds falls into bowl. This took me 2 minutes :)

    • marc

      We’ve also had great results with that method. We’ve even managed to have none of the pods break on one attempt! The skin needs to be cut just right. Naturalmarketer on youtube definitely has the right method (even if the terms in his instructions are not 100% accurate)

    • Elise

      We tried this the other day and it didn’t work well with the pomegranate we were using. Like I mentioned in the post, these techniques that have you beat the pomegranate with a wooden spoon haven’t worked with our pomegranates. Many of the arils end up bruised.

    • Sara

      This way worked great for me but I’m going to try your recommendation on the next one.

  27. Marta @ What Should I eat for breakfast today

    I knew this one :) But I’d be happy to find this post when I didn’t know and was looking for answers. Thank you for sharing.

  28. Glenda Booth

    Watched a YouTube of this guy who cut around the “equator” of the pomegranate, pulled it apart, “stretched” the halves apart a bit around the circumference, turned the cut part down on his palm, hit the pomegranate with a wooden spoon, and the seeds fell into the bowl. Took about 30 seconds. I’ve never seen anything like it! FASTFASTFAST!

  29. Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate

    I have never tried this method. I always cut it in half and spank the seeds out. As long as you squeeze it to loosen them up, it works pretty well.

  30. kim

    funny, i just bought a 10 lb bag of pomegranates at my local farmers market. they were all bursting at the seams… some were even getting over-ripe, but i managed to save some of the seeds inside. discarded the mushy ones… maybe i’ll make juice!

  31. Monica @ The Yogi Movement

    Very helpful! I had a rough time the first time I tried to get seeds out of a pomegranate!

  32. Rosita

    I came across your original instructions awhile ago, which equipped me to brave the enigmatic pomegranate. Thanks to your advice, I now love them! They are especially delicious stirred into plain Greek yogurt, adding a great crunchy texture.

  33. Mark

    Modernist Cuisine presents a really clever way of extracting the juice from pomegranate seeds – seal the arils in a vacuum bag (e.g. FoodSaver), and then just run over the bag with a rolling pin. Snip the corner off and you can just pour out the juice!

    I would imagine it would work with a relatively heavy duty Ziploc (freezer bag), but you’d probably want to get as much of the air out as you can with the water displacement method below.

    http://lifehacker.com/5978333/seal-food-for-sous-vide-cooking-or-the-freezer-with-just-a-bowl-of-water

  34. Bureaucrat

    OMG… you and your parents are so lucky to have a pomegranate tree :) I’m so jealous!!

  35. kflip

    not all of pomegranates are ‘acidic’ those ones that are acid are not in the mature status..here in my country there are acidic ones from Israel at the supermarket X. But in the supermarket Y they don’t taste acid..they were very sweet(they were also from Israel). And in the supermarket Z there were fruits exported from Spain (the worst ones! trust me) and I don’t like this kind of variety as it is more pink colored than ‘that red’ (those ones that were in your recipe).’that red’ colored form means more antioxidants!

    • Elise

      Hello Kflip, it is true that not all pomegranates are very acidic. There is one variety that I tried recently that hardly has any acid. It is not true that those that are acidic are not mature. Our “Wonderful” variety pomegranates are wonderfully sweet, they are also acidic. In fact, if we are processing a lot of them for making juice, we will have to wear gloves, because like handling a lot of lemon juice, the acid can really begin to burn your hands. As for the color of the pomegranate arils, again there are different varieties. I have found some varieties that are completely ripe and just light pink. However, I do see around here, that people harvest and eat pomegranates before they are fully ripe. The Wonderful variety should produce deep burgundy colored seeds, if left on the tree to ripen long enough. Most people pick them too early, or choose “perfect” looking pomegranates in the store. The best way to tell that a pomegranate is ripe is that the pom is beginning to burst open, developing cracks along the side.

  36. Suzy

    This is an amazing article. I had no idea what was inside one of those things. They are full of only seeds! LOL! I thought there would be a layer of fruit like a mango. I think I’ll buy one and play around. ~Thank you!

  37. Eleni

    Hi, Elise, and thanks for all the wonderful recipes and tips. How do you know when a pomegranate is ripe? My seeds aren’t usually ruby red throughout, but have lots of white bits. Thank you, Eleni

    • Elise

      Great question. It does depend on the variety of pomegranate. “Wonderful” variety pomegranates are truly ripe when they are deep ruby red as pictured. Of course you can eat them when they are less ripe, they will just be a little less flavorful and a little more tart. Other varieties never get that deep red color but stay light pink. If you are buying pomegranates at the store, pick the heaviest pomegranates of the same size. So, if you are choosing between two pomegranates and one is heavier than the other, that one is juicier and should be more ripe. If you are buying pomegranates at the farmers market, look for pomegranates that have begun or are beginning to crack open at the sides. If they have already cracked open, that’s the best, as long as mold hasn’t set in, which happens pretty quickly when the pomegranates have started to crack open.

  38. M A Young

    I feel the most important part of the de-seeding of pomegranate fruit is the nutritional value. I have heart disease and this miracle fruit has just what the doctor ordered. Antioxidants! Your method of de-seeding a pomegranate is “da’ bomb!” Hope this make more people realize the value of ease from this underestimated fruit and move it to the top of lifelong health. Thank you so much!

  39. Sandy S

    Just made a wonderful version of a Waldorf salad using your classic recipe and swapping out the grapes for pomegranate arils! Delish! Will certainly be reminded to make it again whenever I see Pomegranates in the stores.

  40. Fabio

    My best friend visiting taught me this method just a week ago, and it’s great. When I feel naughty, I like to chew directly in the cut sections, it makes me feel like haute bourgeoisie (not “country cousin” like someone said above, I’d rethink of that in these terms!). The addition of the bowl with water is very interesting, although since I’m not usually eating the seeds very quickly I’m afraid that putting them to contact with water might reduce their life span, even if I dry them after.

    Anyway, now I know where those 2 indelible stains on my favourite jumper came from…

  41. ms match

    if you have diverticulitis do NOT eat the hard seed inside. I put the soft seeds inside the Magic Bullet and then press the results thru a sieve, add some sugar to taste and water and shake it all up and drink it. I had a big glass this morning. This pulp also makes great jelly/jam, too.

  42. Sara

    That worked great! Thanks!

  43. Ene

    When using the arils on a salad or as a garnish, do you use more mature seeds? The fruit I purchased yesterday was not at all mature and the seeds we “chewed” or tasted seemed quite woody.To seed the pomegranate and end up with enough juice for a smoothie was quite an adventure today. Thank goodness for the internet and the wealth of information to get this little project accomplished. Thank you!

  44. marie

    Thanks for the instructions! They worked great. I had some brown arils… I’m assuming my pomegranate was getting old? (It came in a fruit basket and I had been putting off figuring out how to cut it…)

  45. Susan

    I would like to freeze the seeds but will they still have that juicy crunch and taste the same. I would be freezing them in a single layer until frozen, then put in baggies.

    Thanks

  46. Sandy S

    Thank you so much Elise for opening my eyes to this wonderful fruit! Every since you showed us how to open them and extract the seeds, they have become a regular part of my diet. They are so good! And, really pretty easy to peel and store in the fridge for sprinkling on salads, yogurt and eating by the handful. One of my favorites, is to use them in place of grapes in Waldorf salads. The crunch of the pome seeds compliments the crunch of the walnuts!

    • Elise

      Wonderful! Pomegranates are magical, aren’t they? So glad you are discovering all the ways you can play with them.

  47. Nancy Chojnacki

    Is it ok to use the seeds in a smoothly ? I have never used them before, bought my first one today and am anxious to get started.

    • Elise

      Well, there are hard little bits inside the pomegranate arils that probably wouldn’t do well in a smoothy. I don’t recommend it.

  48. Linda Ferber(maggiemay)

    I, too have an old wearever citrus press and it works beautifully, no splashes or mess. I do each half twice, reversing the “fold” and get a little more juice. I freeze juice in plastic bottles so can pull one out when needed. I usually drink it straight, no sugar, maybe a little water. I want to try jelly but without so much sugar. will try Pomona’s universal pectin. I am fortunate to live in So. Calif where I can grow these and I have around 6 varieties.

  49. Ewelina

    Hey Elise, I came across your fantastic website looking for ways to open pomegranate! Can you believe it:) I am writing a blog post about it and took a liberty of sending my readers to your blog to learn how to do it quickly and efficiently. I only started using the fruit recently and cannot believe how complimentary it is to so many dishes. Have you ever tried it with your breakfast porridge? I wish I had a pomegranate tree as your folks do, I would eat it all winter :)

  50. Angelita

    Great tips. A friend gave me 4 fruits from her tree yesterday. I never had a technique in cutting it before. Now, it’s more inviting to have them with less trouble. Thanks.

  51. annie levine

    As a young person I lived in Coney Island for many years.When the weather got cold, the Chinese apple m an came with his pomegranates, set up a table on the boardwalk, cut them in half and used an orange juice squeezer to fill up a paper cup for 25 cents. What a treat for early winter; in addition the man with the charlotte russes came, as well as the roasted sweet potatoes, and the hot jelly apples, also cold and candied. Those were happy times just before and after WW2.

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