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The Jewels of Winter, Pomegranates

Pears, apples, persimmons and one of my favorites, pomegranates, are appearing in the farmer’s market this time of year. I love their deep crimson color which makes them both enticing to look at and explains the sensual appeal they add to any dish. Pomegranates are an ancient fruit which have been widely acclaimed throughout history as an aphrodisiac. But in addition to possibly improving your love life they are a terrific antioxidant, with ample amounts of Vitamin C.

The hard exterior of the pomegranate intimidates a few folks — leaving them perplexed at how to eat one. Don’t let the exterior keep you from trying one though it really is not that difficult to cut open a pomegranate and the delicious treat inside is worth the effort.

The fruit of the pomegranate is literally its seeds which are not only beautiful with their glistening, ruby like exteriors but are also tasty, orbs of satisfying sweetness with a tart edge. A pomegranate really has no fruit per se, but rather contains many edible seeds. By cutting open the pomegranate you can extract the seeds.

I picked up a few pomegranates this last week at the farmers market and it inspired me to write tips on how to open and seed a pomegranate, how to make pomegranate juice and to share an autumn salad with beets and pomegranate recipe. Pomegranates are in season from now until January.

Photo Credit: Chany Crystal, Israel
Photo Credit: Chany Crystal, Israel

How to Open a Pomegranate

Step 1 – Be careful and cut the crown off

First, it is important to work carefully with pomegranates both their juice and seeds will permanently stain your clothing so wear old clothes you don’t care about when working with one. If you use a wooden cutting board, the stains left on the board can be cleaned with either vinegar or lemon juice. For these reasons I prefer another method, other than the cutting board method, which is to cut up the pomegranate instead in a sink full of an inch or two of lukewarm water. The reason for this will become apparent in a moment. Every pomegranate has “crown” at the top of it. Place the pomegranate over the sink full of water with a paring knife carve off the top of the pomegranate just a 1/2 inch to an inch or so away from the crown in a circle. Try not to pierce too many seeds in the process.

Step 2 – Score and tear open the pomegranate

With a paring knife lightly score the shell of the pomegranate along the existing ridges from the area of the crown down to an inch or so from the bottome . You will make five scores, one down each of 5 ridges. Do this carefully. After scoring the pomegranate take hold of it with both hands and place it partially submerged under water, tear each section from the top down along the scoring, literally opening up the pomegranate into five sections or petals. Once you have done this with each of the five sections, it will look much like a flower or a starfish.

Step 3 – Remove seeds
At this point you will want to carefully remove the bright red seeds from the surrounding membrane. Let the seeds drop into the water. The water is of benefit here as the seeds will drop to the bottom and the membrane will actually float to the top helping separate the two.

Step 4 – Separate out the seeds
You can scoop the seeds up with your hands or with a sieve. Place seeds in a bowl for use in a dish or for eating by themselves.


Pomegranate Juice

To make juice from the seeds, place a cup or so of the seeds at a time into a blender. Pulse for a short time just until juice starts to be extracted and seeds are just broken. Remove the seeds from blender the blender and pour into a fine sieve placed over a bowl. With a wooden spoon or a spatula push down on the seeds to extract the juice. Add sugar to your desired level of sweetness.

In general two large pomegranates will yield 2 cups of juice

Beet and Pomegranate Salad

3 golden beets
1 cup small dice red onion
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 cups arugula or other leafy greens
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese


Preheat the oven to 375?F. Roast the beets for an hour. Let cool the beets cool completely. When cool peel the skin off the beets and then dice them into 1/2 inch cubes.

In a 10 to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat place cut up beets, onion, vinegar, broth, orange juice, sugar, and orange peel together, stirring often, until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons.The reduction time should take between 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, or you can store airtight up to 1 day ahead.

Mix pomegranate seeds with the beet mixture. Add salt to taste. Spoon beet mixture on top of salad greens on individual plates. Sprinkle generously with feta cheese.

Note: Red beets can be substituted by the gold makes the dish visually appealing.

Serves 4

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