Lately, it seems that many recipe books and marketing ads have begun focusing on the health benefits of pomegranates. Everywhere I turn, it's pomegranate this and pomegranate that. For Easter dinner I even tasted some pomegranate 7-up. Needless to say, it tasted like pure corn syrup, and I believe the label said, "contains no fruit juice." Figures.

I like to consider myself an amateur food guru for the most part and have tried many foods. I remember the first time I had a pomegranate -- it was way back in 8th-grade Spanish class. I know. Weird, right? But the pomegranate is native to the Mediterranean region, and my teacher just happened to be from Spain. He brought several pomegranates to class and showed us how to peel them and seed them and, of course, eat them. By far, the best day of class.

Pomegranates are a mix of deep red and purple and are just beautiful. They are typically the size of an orange and have a crown at the top. Many people become confused when they see a pomegranate that has been opened, because it's full of seeds. Normally, we don't eat the seeds of fruits, but in this case, the seeds are the best part.

PEELING INSTRUCTIONS

First, cut off the crown and gently scoop out some of the center core, trying really hard not to touch the seeds. With a sharp knife, starting from where the crown was, make four cuts -- one on each side of the fruit. Place your thumb into the core where the crown was and gently pull apart each section. Remove the white skin covering the seeds, and gently turn the piece of fruit inside out so that the seeds pop out. You can also put the four sections in a bowl of cold water -- the white layer will float, and the seeds will sink.

JUICING

Personally, I love eating the seeds and having them explode in my mouth, but if you're interested in making juice, here are a few methods:

Using a food mill, grind the seeds over a bowl. This will leave the seeds trapped in the food mill and not in the juice.

You can put the seeds in a blender with short pulses and then strain the juice.

You can cut the fruit in half crosswise and ream the halves as you would a lemon.

And by far the easiest: Place the seeds in a sealed plastic bag, roll them with a rolling pin, then strain.

SELECTION, STORAGE

I recently went looking for a pomegranate, because I had a hankering for one, and I didn't have any luck. I was told "not until Christmas." But I know that there are pomegranates out there somewhere, and maybe during the summer I can find one in the store. If you shop for pomegranates you'll need this information in order to be sure you're picking out the best one of the bunch!

Fruits should be round and plump, heavy for their size, with a rich fresh color. They should also be free of blemishes and bruises. The larger the fruit, the more juice you can get.

Keep in mind that pomegranates will not ripen once they are picked, so they won't get any sweeter from that point.

The whole pomegranate can be stored for up to a month in a cool, dry place or in the fridge for up to two months.

The seeds can be frozen in an airtight bag for up to one year.

Fresh juice should be refrigerated and used within two to three days.

I hope that you take the opportunity to try one of these delicious and exciting fruits! Keep your eyes open in the produce section during their prime, which is October and November. I will also keep looking, and if I find a hidden stash of pomegranates locally, I'll spread the word.

Resources: California Agriculture and Natural Resources www.ucce.udavis.edu

Trending Video

Recommended for you