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 a juicy, brilliant-red pulp—that are separated into clusters by a bitter cream-color membrane. The seeds are edible with a sweet-tart flavor. Touted for their protective antioxidants, pomegranate seeds are also a very good source of vitamin C and vitamin K, and a good source of dietary fiber and folate. Use the seeds in desserts, salads, and more, and drink the pomegranate juice or use it in dressings or sauces.
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 cool, dark place for up to 1 month or in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. You can also purchase just the pomegranate seeds to make homemade pomegranate juice easier to make.
Using a sharp knife, cut the fruit vertically in half. Using your hands, gently break the halves into smaller sections. 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.
Place the pomegranate sections in a bowl of water. Using your fingers, loosen the seeds from each section into the water. The seeds will sink to the bottom. Discard the peel and membrane that will be left floating on top.
Pour the water and pomegranate seeds through a sieve to catch the seeds. One medium pomegranate yields about 1/2 cup seeds. Eat the seeds out of hand or use them in salads (such as this Persimmon, Blood Orange, and Pomegranate Salad) or as a garnish for desserts (like Pomegranate-Raspberry Bars) 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.
Homemade pomegranate juice takes just minutes to make once you've seeded the pomegranate. You don't even need a special pomegranate juicer or pomegranate juice press! Place the drained seeds in a blender or food processor, and blend or process until combined into a pulp. Transfer the pulp to a sieve set over a bowl. Using the back of a spoon, press the pulp to release the juice into the bowl below. (This is the same process you'd use to make seedless raspberry sauce.)
Taste the juice. If ripe enough, it won't need any sweetener, and you can drink or use the pure unsweetened pomegranate juice. If it seems too tart add your desired sweetener, just a little at a time, to get it to the perfect level of sweetness. Use this pomegranate juice recipe as is, as a beverage, or as an ingredient in sauces, salad dressings, juice blends, or cocktails.