pomegranate guide: how to pick, cut, prepare, juice, and cook with pomegranate
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Mystic, beautiful, decorative, lucky, nutritious, superfood—these are some of the words used to describe a pomegranate fruit. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing and using pomegranate.

The brilliant ruby red ball has a thick rind on the outside, and spongy white tissue and edible sweet yet tart arils inside. Whole pomegranates are often used as holiday centerpieces, while the citrusy seeds are useful for juicing, cooking, and garnishing.


Chowhound’s Pomegranate Ganache is an uncommon way to enjoy this fruit

Pomegranates are low in calories and high in Vitamin C, fiber and potassium. The deep color of the pomegranate comes from its antioxidant content, making it a nutritious snack.

It is no surprise then that pomegranate is one of the most revered fruits in human history. It symbolizes life, joy and fertility across many cultures. At Persian, Greek, and Chinese weddings, pomegranates are often given as gifts to newlyweds. The pomegranate fruit is mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, and the 613 seeds in each pomegranate coincide with the 613 commandments of the Jewish Torah.

How to Pick a Pomegranate

Fresh whole pomegranates are available at grocery stores across the U.S. typically from October to January. When picking a pomegranate, make sure to feel its weight and skin. It should be heavy (full of juice) and firm to touch. A dark ruby red color is indicate of good quality.

Store the pomegranate at room temperature for several days or freeze the seeds in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

How To Open a Pomegranate Like a Pro

According to POM Wonderful, cutting open a whole pomegranate may seem intimidating, but there are four simple steps to make opening this fruit a breeze:

1. Cut off the top. Do this about a half inch from the crown.

2. Score the fruit. Once you remove the top, four to six sections of the pomegranate divided by white membrane will be visible. Score the skin along each section.

3. Open it up. Carefully pull the pomegranate apart over a bowl of water.

4. Loosen the seeds. Gently pry the arils loose using your thumbs. The plump, juicy seeds will sink to the bottom. Scoop away everything that floats to the top.

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If you don’t want to go through the hassle of opening a pomegranate, you can also purchase peeled and ready-to-eat arils in the produce section of many grocery stores.

How To Squeeze Pomegranate Juice

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Chowhound’s Homemade Grenadine starts with pomegranate juice

Pomegranate juice is all the rave, but do you know why? Fresh pomegranate juice contains particularly high amounts of all three types of polyphenols, a potent form of antioxidants. You can buy bottled pomegranate juice or make it yourself at home. California-based Pomegranate Council recommends 3 main methods to get fresh squeezed pomegranate juice.

Juicer Method: Cut the fresh pomegranate in half as you would a grapefruit. Use a hand-press juicer or an electric juicer. Take care not to juice the white membrane, so that the juice remains sweet. Strain the juice through a cheesecloth-lined strainer or sieve to remove the pulp.

Blender Method: Place 1 ½ to 2 cups of pomegranate seeds and some water to a blender. Blend until liquefied. Pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer or sieve.

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Rolling Method: Place pomegranate pearls in a Ziplock bag and close tight. On a hard surface, press the palm of your hand against a pomegranate and gently roll until crackling stops and all seeds are broken open. Pierce the rind and squeeze out juice, or poke in a straw and press to release the juice.

Drink the fresh juice as is, or refrigerate to use in sangria, pomegranate martini or even homemade pomegranate wine. Reduce the juice with sugar and lemon juice to get viscous pomegranate molasses, to use in sauces, stews and salad dressings.

Ways To Eat Pomegranate

Though pomegranate arils taste great by themselves, they are also used in many food and drink recipes around the world. Start with a pomegranate breakfast smoothie, mix in with granola, top buttermilk pancakes, or have a glass of fresh juice.

This versatile fruit can be incorporated into almost every preparation. Add it to your stuffing and succotash, sprinkle over shrimp salad and brie bites, mix it into meatballs and fudge bars. Whenever you need a sparkle of color and crunch, pomegranate makes a great addition.

Eggplant and pomegranate are a perfect pair in Persian cooking. Top baba ghanoush or eggplant caviar with fresh pomegranate seeds, or roll up fried sliced eggplant with walnuts, mint, and pomegranate to make a classic Georgian appetizer.

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Chowhound’s Stuffed Eggplant

Dried crushed pomegranate seed powder (called anardana) is used in Indian cuisine as a souring agent. Sprinkle on chaat (Indian street food), add to chickpeas curry, or concoct a spicy pomegranate chutney.

Chiles en nogada is a festive dish prepared for Mexican Independence Day (September 15th). Meat-stuffed poblano chiles in a white walnut cream sauce, garnished with pomegranate seeds and parsley, resemble the colors of the Mexican flag.

For dessert, switch out apples for a pomegranate crisp, mix arils in with jellies and custard, or sprinkle on a festive chocolate bark. The sweetness of pomegranate naturally pairs well with dark chocolate, so make sure to incorporate into tarts, brownies, and fudge for an added twist of flavor.

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Sexy and she knows it. Dark chocolate pomegranate ganache mini tarts with ginger-orange compote. MY RECIPE BELOW⤵️ . . The PERFECT holiday dessert. Pomegranates are in season right now and if you haven’t ever tried them, you should! Autumn’s gorgeous jewels.😍 This super-easy tart combines a decadent dark chocolate ganache with fresh pomegranate juice. The pomegranate arils are folded right in to the ganache. And it’s an Oreo cookie crust! HOLY MOLY it’s good. . The ginger-orange-pomegranate compote is totally optional but OMG it takes the tart to the next level. The citrusy notes of the compote complement the dark chocolate ganache perfectly. 100% #vegan but you would never know. Make ahead and enjoy! . . Ingredients (Makes 6 mini tarts or one 9” large tart) For the cookie tart base: 28 Oreo cookies, with cream filling 1 stick (8tbsp) vegan butter, melted For the pomegranate-citrus-ginger compote: (makes about 4 tbsp) Seeds from 1 large (or 2 small) pomegranates 1 medium orange, zested and juiced 1 small (1/2 inch) knob of fresh ginger, grated 1/2 cup (or 8 tbsp) maple syrup For the ganache filling: 3 cups dark chocolate, chopped (I used 85%). 1.5 cups coconut cream 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate juice 1/2-1 tbsp maple syrup 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/4 tsp salt A handful (or more!) of fresh pomegranate seeds to fold in, and more for the topping . Method: Step 1: Make the cookie crust. Simply blitz the Oreo cookies in a high-speed blender until crumbly. Fold in the melted vegan butter and combine well. Press the mixture down into the base and sides of the mini-tart pans and chill for a couple of hours. Step 2 (optional, but so good!): Make the compote. Juice the pomegranate seeds in a blender. In a saucepan, combine the pomegranate juice, orange zest, orange juice, grated ginger and maple syrup. Heat on a medium-low flame until jammy and syrupy, about 20-25 minutes. Pass through a strainer carefully to get rid of the chunks. Spread the compote on the base of the tarts and place back in the fridge. Step 3: Make the ganache filling. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate. CONTINUED in comments⤵️

A post shared by Rasika | Vegan Recipes & Bakes (@masalainmykitchen) on

No matter what you decide to cook, pomegranate will add more pop to your dish and a nutrition boost.

Check out Chowhound’s pomegranate recipes for more ideas.

Related Video: Make This Sparkling Pomegranate Rum Punch for a Festive Occasion

Header image courtesy of POM

Sucheta Rawal is an award-winning food and travel writer, author of ‘Beato Goes To’ series of children’s books, and founder of the nonprofit ‘Go Eat Give.’ Follow her at @SuchetaRawal or visit her at www.suchetarawal.com.
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