I used to use pomegranates strictly as Christmas decorations. Their bright red exterior looks smashing nestled into a pile of pine boughs on my mantle. When the season passed, I’d just toss them out. What a fool I was. While I was busy being Martha Stewart, I was overlooking their potential in the kitchen. It wasn’t until I started working with them in the EatingWell Test Kitchen that I realized how awesome pomegranates actually are.
If you’ve ever tasted pomegranate juice, then you are familiar with the sweet, slightly sour taste of a pomegranate aril. (The aril refers to the juicy case that forms around the seed). You can cook with the juice, but don’t neglect the arils. They make a wonderful addition to salads and make a stunning garnish for holiday desserts.
While you’re wowing your guests with your new pomegranate culinary prowess, you’ll be simultaneously pumping them full of antioxidants—natural chemicals found in plants that help protect the body from free radicals, which damage tissues and may contribute to a variety of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. And 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds has only 72 calories and 4 grams of fiber! So how do you unlock the magic of a pomegranate?
It’s easy. Just fill a large bowl with water. Lightly score the fruit into quarters from the crown to stem, cutting just the skin, but not the interior of the fruit. Hold the fruit under water, break it apart and use your hands to gently separate the arils from the outer skin and white pith (see image below). The seeds will sink to the bottom and the white pith will float to the top. Discard the pith, drain and rinse the seeds and pat them dry.
So now that you’re armed with all the information you need to use a pomegranate, don’t pass them up at the store or let them just sit around in your holiday display. Enjoy them.