The Delicious Pomegranate
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.
How to Eat a Pomegranate
Over the years we've experimented with how to eat a pomegranate pretty much every way possible. The challenge is to how to open and de-seed them. Some people wonder "Do you eat pomegranate seeds?" The answer is yes!
How to Cut a Pomegranate
Pomegranate juice will stain, and you don't want to destroy the seeds while removing 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 a step-by-step guide on how to eat a pomegranate and effectively open it - which, if done well, results in not one broken seed, and takes hardly any time at all.
How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranate
- 1 pomegranate
Make a thin slice on the bottom of the pomegranate:
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.
Cut and remove the crown of the pomegranate:
Use a paring knife to cut a circle, at a shallow angle, around the crown of the pomegranate, cutting it out.
Make shallow, vertical cuts on the outside of the pomegranate:
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.
Pry open the pomegranate:
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 their way to the bowl.
Pry the seeds away from the peel and membranes:
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 countertop, you can pry open the pomegranate and remove the seeds underwater, but you shouldn't need to if none of the seeds have been cut into.
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.
How to Make Juice From Pomegranate Seeds
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. Note that if you over-blend, you'll end up blending in the more bitter core of the aril. Just pulse a few times and strain.
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.