A friend recently offered me fresh pomegranates off of her overflowing tree. What a gift! Besides being packed with nutritional power (high in vitamins C, B, fiber and minerals), pomegranate seeds are just downright beautiful. Like nature’s edible rubies, pomegranate seeds add sweet-tart flavor and gorgeous color to many dishes. With availability from October through December, now is the time to enjoy pomegranates seeds.
Pomegranates – An Ancient Fruit
Sitting outside on the curb as a kid, I discovered the wonder of pomegranates. The ruby sweet-tart juice ran down my fingers, staining my hands and nails red. And if you weren’t careful, you’d have permanently pink speckled clothes as well. Such a strange but wonderful fruit. Pomegranates seemed pretty exotic back then.
When convenient packages of seeds (called arils) became available I was very excited. People in the grocery store probably thought I was crazy. Ah well, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve gotten excited in a grocery store. Now it was easy to enjoy the seeds without the mess of opening a pomegranate. But really, they are not hard to open.
How to Open Pomegranates
With deep red to pinkish leathery skin, the apple-shaped pomegranate may look difficult to open but it’s not. The under water method is quite popular and how I handle them.
Directions: Cut a little off the top and bottom, score the vertical ridges on the outside with a paring knife, then break open the pomegranate in a large bowl of water. Next, loosen the sections and free the seeds from the white membrane with your fingers. Discard the membrane and then drain off the seeds. That’s it.
Need a visual? Here’s a link that shows you how to open a pomegranate.
How to Buy Pomegranates
When choosing pomegranates, go for smooth-skinned fruit that feels heavy for it’s size. The heavier it is the more juice it contains.After purchase, pomegranates can last up to a week on the kitchen counter or up to several weeks in the refrigerator. Fresh arils will last a week in the refrigerator, and they even freeze.
(More Than) A Dozen Things to Do With Pomegranate Seeds
- Sprinkle in salads. Try a tossed green salad with pecans, blue cheese and pear slices or a butter lettuce, orange, avocado and salad and dress with a light Champagne vinaigrette
- Try avocado pomegranate guacamole, it is terrific!
- Brighten oatmeal for breakfast
- Jazz up plain, vanilla or honey yogurt
- Create a yogurt parfait for breakfast with pomegranate seeds, berries and granola
- Peel and slice fresh oranges into segments, sprinkle with the seeds and mint for a beautiful winter citrus salad
- Create a breakfast fruit salad with orange segments, grapefruit segments, bananas, apples, berries, and pomegranate seeds
- Add a festive touch to a glass of Champagne for the holidays
- Add sparkle to low fat ice cream or frozen yogurt for dessert
- Sprinkle the seeds over sautéed chicken breasts
- As an appetizer, make goat cheese crostini and sprinkle the arils on top instead of nectarines in this recipe
- Stir into wild rice or wild and brown rice blends along with chopped chives, parsley and chopped nuts for a beautiful and healthy pilaf-style rice
- Add a twist to quinoa Tabouleh salad using pomegranate seeds instead of tomatoes
- Sprinkle on butternut-apple soup or curried butternut carrot soup. The ruby seeds make a beautiful garnish.
- For a Thanksgiving cranberry-pomegranate relish or salad, use this recipe but add pomegranate seeds.
- Use them as a brilliant garnish for baby green beans with shallots and pecans for Thanksgiving or any holiday