Tips for making the most of "nature's most labor-intensive fruit."
It’s no wonder the pomegranate (POM-uh-gran-uht) is an ancient symbol of abundance: Beneath that leathery exterior, you’ll find a wealth of ruby red arils, jewel-like sacks bursting with sweet-tart juice surrounding a diminutive seed. Hebrew legend maintains that each fruit holds 613 seeds, one for each mitzvah (good deed) recounted in the Torah.
Pomegranates have been dubbed “nature’s most labor-intensive fruit.” That’s unfortunate because the contents are well worth a bit of effort. The juice stains with a vengeance—it’s a traditional dye for Persian rugs—but that hurdle is easily overcome by working underwater.
To extract the arils, or seeds, fill a large bowl with water. Plunge the pomegranate under the surface and use a paring knife to cut off the crown along with a bit of the core (sort of like hulling a strawberry.) Keeping the pomegranate submerged, insert your thumbs into the core and pry the fruit into sections. Use your fingers to loosen seeds from the pithy membranes—the seeds conveniently sink, while the membrane floats to the top. Pour off the water and membranes, reserving the precious seeds. Eat the seeds out of hand, use them in recipes, or freeze them for up to a year.
One pomegranate yields about 3/4 cup of seeds, which yield 1/3 to 1/2 cup of juice. For juice, process the seeds in blender, and pour through a strainer, pressing with the back of a spoon to release as much juice as possible. Pomegranates are extremely rich in antioxidants, a discovery that has catapulted pomegranate juice into mainstream supermarkets. Pomegranate molasses is juice that’s been reduced to a syrupy intensity.
—By Jo Marshall, a food writer in Deephaven, Minn.
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