Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pomegranates: Worth Your Time

This is a pomegranate. Pomegranates are delicious.

A few years ago, a pomegranate juice craze began. You may have tasted the sweet, spunky dark red liquid, which is rich in antioxidants and vitamins C and K, potassium, iron, and folate. The juice is nutritious, but sugar-and calorie-dense.

Eating a pomegranate in its natural state--that is, crunching on the seeds encased by juice--offers some benefits beyond the nutrients in the juice. One pomegranate contains about 230 calories, 11g fiber, and 5g protein. It also contains 40g sugar, which is why pomegranate seeds are great to sweeten and season, but might make you crash when eaten in large quantities.

Pomegranates are a wintertime fruit, and I always associate their presence in grocery stores with Christmas. Now is a great time to buy the last batch of pomegranates because they are probably on sale. The best price I've found for pomegranates around Atlanta is 3 for $5. When you see pomegranates on sale, stock up--they last up to two months in the fridge.

Today we are going to cut into a pomegranate and harvest the seeds.

See that goofy top part? The part that looks like it belongs on the mouth of a muppet? That's called the "crown." You'll want to cut off the top of the pomegranate about half an inch below the crown.

Pomegranate murder! Just kidding. But the bright red juices of these ruby bombshells stain everything, so be careful! Cutting into the pomegranate reveals the juicy seeds, called arils.

Gently work the rind and membrane away from the fruit. You'll discover the pomegranate is separated into sections, kind of like a citrus fruit. If you're having trouble, you could try cutting along the membrane.

The arils are loose and will separate from the membrane with gentle prodding.

Gently "thumb" arils into a tupperware container. If you're having a hard time keeping the membrane from falling into the container too, you can put the arils in a deep bowl, then fill it with water and shake gently. The membrane will rise to the top and you can skim it off, then drain the arils.

Keep working...you should have a nice-sized pile of rinds by now.

It should be easier to separate the pomegranate as you near the end...

Done! Refrigerate arils in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

A serving suggestion: Drizzle pomegranate seeds over leafy greens and goat cheese.

A note on the arils: some people enjoy pomegranate juice but don't like eating the arils because of the crunchy seeds. I'd encourage you to give the seeds a shot. Their crunch is satisfying. I eat them out of the bowl like cereal. They're also great stirred into yogurt. Pomegranates are often paired with meat for an exotic dinner dish. Click here for a recipe from Rachel Ray.

Think I'm an amateur when it comes to pomegranates? You're right. Check out the experts at pomwonderful.com for nutritional information, handling tips, and recipes. You can watch a video of someone opening a pomegranate at pomwonderful.com/fresh.

1. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/2038/2
Wonderful Inside. POM Wonderful. 2010.

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