Late October to early November is the season for pomegranates, pinkish red orbs filled with crunchy, juicy seeds (known as arils), bursting with flavor.
Where to Find the Best Pomegranates
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.
There, you are most likely to find the ripest pomegranates - the ones whose peels are beginning to crack open, their plump, ripe arils 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 how to open and de-seed them. Some people wonder: "Do you eat pomegranate seeds?" The answer is yes!
Cutting a Pomegranate
Pomegranate juice will stain, and you don't want to destroy the arils 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 arils, 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 aril, and takes hardly any time at all.
How to Make Juice from Pomegranates
If you want to make juice from the arils, pulse a cup at a time in a blender, just enough to break the arils. 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. Two large pomegranates will generally yield about 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 arils are dry. Arrange them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper. Place in the freezer for 2 hours or until frozen. Once frozen, put them into a freezer bag or container and store them in the freezer.
Easy Ways to Use Pomegranate Seeds
Pomegranate arils will fancy up anything you're eating. They're like edible ruby-red jewels. You can sprinkle them over oatmeal, yogurt or your fall salad. You can use them for garnish on things like hummus or baba ganoush. Or sprinkle them in your cocktails.
Sparkling Recipes for Pomegranate Seeds
- Fesenjan (Persian Pomegranate Chicken)
- Pomegranate Molasses
- Pork Chops with Pomegranate Glaze
- Golden Beet and Pomegranate Salad
- Pomegranate Mimosa with Hard Cider
How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranate
Pomegranate juice stains! While this method of cutting and de-seeding a pomegranate shouldn't produce much juice, you may want to take care with what you are wearing while cutting or eating a pomegranate.
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.
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 (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 the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 2g||2%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||1%|
|Total Carbohydrate 26g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 6g||20%|
|Total Sugars 19g|
|Vitamin C 14mg||72%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|