Pomegranates

All about pomegranates, how to choose them, how to store them, how to open them, and what to cook with them!

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

One of my earliest memories is that of using money my grandmother had given me to buy candy to buy a pomegranate instead. Oh, how I loved them then and still do!

Now that we have our own pomegranate tree, we get to hang out in pom heaven come every November. We’ll harvest over a hundred pomegranates from our one tree and store them to eat over the winter, or make juice out of them.

Here’s some tips on what to look for when buying them, how to open them, store them, juice them, and how to use them in recipes:

How do you know when a pomegranate is ripe?

Just because a pomegranate is red doesn’t mean that the fruit inside is ripe. The longer the pomegranate stays on the tree, the darker, sweeter, and more intensely flavored the pomegranate arils (seeds) will be. So don’t buy the first pomegranates you see showing up in the market. Wait a few weeks.

Then look for pomegranates that have deep red skin. The deeper the color of the red on the outside, the more ripe the fruit will be.

Hold the pomegranate in your hand. If it feels heavy, that’s good! That means the arils inside are full of juice.

Don’t worry if the skin is a little rough on the outside. In fact, if the skin is breaking, that’s a good sign that the fruit is ripe.

Pomegranates

We don’t pick our pomegranates until they begin to burst at the seams. This usually happens a few days after a rain.

Why do pomegranates split? The fruit absorbs the moisture and the skin cannot contain them anymore. Once the skin has cracked to reveal the arils, the pomegranates must be picked immediately, and used up quickly, or they will get moldy.

Pomegranates on Tree

How to open a pomegranate

The best way to get to the arils (seeds) is to first carefully cut out the crown. Then score the pomegranate with a sharp knife from crown to stem end in several (5 to 8) lines, following the soft ridges of the side of the pomegranate if you can see them.

Place your thumbs in the hole left by the crown and pull the pomegranate apart. Tear away the connecting membranes and remove the arils with your fingers over a large bowl.

You can do this over a bowl half filled with water if you want. The arils will sink to the bottom and the membrane will float on the top. Skim off the membrane and strain the arils of water. (See step-by-step photos in How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranate.)

How to juice pomegranates

To juice pomegranates, put the arils in a blender and pulse a few times, just enough to break up all the arils. Let the mixture sit for a minute for the hard seed bits to settle and use a rubber spatula to press through a strainer. Add sugar to taste if the juice is too tart.

How to store pomegranates

Pomegranates will last several months whole in the refrigerator. While the pomegranates don’t ripen further after they’re picked, the arils will get sweeter as the pomegranates age.

If a pomegranate has split to reveal the arils inside, you will need to eat up the pomegranate quickly. Mold has a way of setting in once the fruit has opened, even just a little.

If you have already de-seeded the pomegranate, you can put the arils in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and store for up to a week in the refrigerator.

To freeze pomegranate seeds, spread the arils out in a single layer then place in a freezer. Once frozen, consolidate them into a freezer bag or an airtight container. They’ll last for up to 6 months frozen.

What to cook with pomegranates?

Pomegranate arils are wonderful on salads and garnishes for main dishes. You can also make pomegranate molasses, a syrup out of pomegranate juice to use in cooking, desserts, and drinks.

Here are a few pomegranate recipes you’ll find here on Simply Recipes:

Salads:

Mains:

Sides:

Sweets:

Here are some terrific food blogs with recipes, tips, and discussions regarding pomegranates:

If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #simplyrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

14 Comments

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  • Marcea

    HELP! Juiced without removing outer skin, taste horrible. Afraid to make my jelly…anyway to remove the tannin taste? Add apple or lemon, strain thru many layers of cheesecloth to soak out the tannin? Thank you!

  • June VanDerAa

    If I have purchased them from a grocery store and the skin is not cracked but are very red, are they ripe enough to eat? Will they continue to ripen?

  • nm

    One way we like to eat pomegranates is to seed them in a bowl and eat them with a spoon.

  • Annette

    Our first pom bush was planted in 1996…and only gave us 4 the first year. Each year since, it has multiplied by 3. Some years have been somewhat scant, because windstorms blew off the blossoms, but the poms that held on were much bigger in those years. I have 4 pomegranate bushes trees, now. Two of the Wonderful variety and two of the Sweet variety. We harvest anywhere from 30-400 pomegranates a year, depending on when the blossoms come and the winds blow. I’ve learned many things about pomegranates. The best way to know when they are ripe is that they just start to split the outer skin (not necessarily all the way through.) This year was cooler much longer in the San Joaquin Valley (Tracy CA), so our crop was fairly late this year. I usually pick them from Halloween to Veteran’s Day…and then work on them till Thanksgiving. I’ve gathered up lots of recipes for jelly, pom ginger muffins, syrup and even pomegranate curd, over the years. I do have “pom clothes” black shirts/stained pants. To process them, we cut off the ends and score the outer skin. Soak them in a basin of water and break them apart under water, after about 10 minutes. This year, I put up a vinyl tablecloth underneath and behind the cutting board and heavy duty citrus press juicer I use. I also had dishwashing gloves that I used just for working on the pomegranates – so my hands wouldn’t get stained. This year, we have about 15 qts of juice from 350 poms. I freeze the juice in 3.5 cup rations…so it’s enough to make a batch of jelly – or enough to use in recipes for other things. You can also boil it down…and use it in marinade.

  • latisha

    wow. you’ve done it again. topped my google search.

    we recently bought a flat of poms too (lemon cukes were my other purchase) from the same farmer here in AZ.

    love all these ideas. thank you!

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Pomegranates