Pomegranate

“How do you eat this thing?!” That’s the first question you might ask when confronted with a pomegranate. If you imagine it will be a messy affair, you might be right depending on whether your kitchen personality. But pomegranate seeds – called “arils” – are a tangy, sour-sweet treat, either eaten straight from the fruit or sprinkled on a salad, and it would be a shame to miss out on these juicy jewels for fear of staining your shirt. So, there’s quite an array of ways to extract these ruby gems. Let us know which one is going to be your go-to method!

#1 “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!”: Don’t wear a white shirt. Then select a healthy-looking pomegranate, heavy for its size, and carefully cut into quarters with a sharp knife. If you don’t mind some membrane (the white parts that separate sections of seeds have a slightly bitter taste), you can bite right into the thick clusters of garnet-red arils and let the juice dribble down your chin. If you’re squeamish about squirting, gently loosen the seeds with your fingers, separating from any clingy pulp, and let collect in a bowl.

#2 Do as they do….”: In Iran, pomegranates play important parts in complex traditional dishes like fesenjan and ash-e anar, but Iranian schoolchildren tend to favor a mess-free, fast-food technique for pomegranate consumption. After scoring a straw-sized hole in the skin, position at your lips, then gently squeeze the fruit. As you squeeze, you’ll hear the arils burst, releasing succulent juice for you to suck out. (To access the last dregs, rip open the skin and munch on the crunchy, mostly-juiced seeds.) Iranians were drinking these “Persian juice-boxes” long before Pom started slapping “antioxidant” labels on bottles and selling pricy pomegranate juice in stores.

#4 “Honey, I broke the soup spoon!”: 

#5  “Massage anyone?”: 

 

Pomegranates pair well with bitter greens, hearty grains, and winter slaws of carrot or cabbage. So if you find yourself tiring of earth-toned root vegetables, a handful of the bright arils will add color and crunch to your sweet potatoes and squash – just do your best to keep that color on your plate and off your shirt.

Editor’s note: Updated from initial post November 2010

photo credit: Keith Williamson via photopin cc