The regal pomegranate, with its leathery red skin and miniature crown, is a complex fruit. It houses hundreds of arils -- small edible seeds encased in juicy, brilliant-red pulp -- that are separated into clusters by a bitter, cream-color membrane. The seeds (arils) are the edible portion and have a sweet-tart flavor. Touted for its protective antioxidants, the pomegranate is also a very good source of vitamin C and vitamin K, and a good source of dietary fiber and folate.
Pomegranates are most abundant in the fall through January, making them a festive holiday fruit. Choose heavy fruits with bright, blemish-free skins, and store them in a dark, cool place for up to 1 month or in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. You can also purchase just the pomegranate seeds (arils).
1. Break open the pomegranate
With a sharp knife, cut the fruit vertically in half. Using your hands, gently break the halves into smaller sections.
Tip: The vivid-red juice can stain, so clean the work surface immediately with warm soapy water. Also, consider wearing an apron or work shirt since the seeds can be messy.
2. Remove the seeds
Place the pomegranate sections in a bowl of water. Using your fingers, loosen the seeds from each section and into the water. The seeds will sink to the bottom. Discard the peel and membrane.
3. Drain and use the seeds
Pour the water and pomegranate seeds through a sieve to catch the seeds and discard the water. One medium pomegranate yields about 1/2 cup seeds. Eat the seeds out of hand or use them in salads or as a garnish for desserts and beverages.
Tip: You can store the seeds in a covered container in the refrigerator for several days or freeze them in a sealed freezer
container for up to 1 year.
Pomegranate juice takes just minutes to make once you've seeded the pomegranate. Place the drained seeds in a blender or food processor, and blend or process until combined into pulp. Transfer the pulp to a sieve set over a bowl. Using the back of a spoon, press the pulp to release the juice. Taste the juice. If ripe enough, it shouldn't require any sweetener. Use the juice as a beverage or as an ingredient in sauces, salad dressing, juice blends, or cocktails.
Tip: If desired, for a clearer juice, line the sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth.