‘Tis the season for pomegranates. You might see these unique and mysterious red orbs about the size of a large orange in the bins of produce departments, but do you wonder how to open them? It can seem a little tricky at first, but step-by-step tips appear below.
Beneath the pomegranate’s hard, leathery skin are hundreds of edible seeds in a sweet-tart juicy flesh surrounded by a bitter white spongy substance called the pith, which is not recommended for consumption. These juicy jewels, known as arils, are antioxidant rich and a good source of vitamin C, potassium, iron and fiber. Juice made from the pomegranate arils is high in three different types of polyphenols. The three types—tannins, anthocyanins and ellagic acid—are present in many fruits, but fresh pomegranate juice contains particularly high amounts of all three.
The most common types are Wonderful or Red Wonderful, the large glossy variety with colors ranging from a pale pinkish red to crimson. To ensure the flavor is well developed, when selecting the fruit, look for those that are heavy for their size, which means they will be juicy, and have unbroken skin.
In season from late fall through early winter, whole pomegranates can make a colorful addition to a holiday table centerpiece. The arils can be mixed in salads or included in appetizers and desserts such as the following recipes courtesy of POM Wonderful. Also try them atop pancakes, waffles, cereal and ice cream.
You want to be careful when working with pomegranates so the juice doesn’t splatter on you or the walls, so these handy steps from POM Wonderful can help in that regard. Or, if you prefer to just crack it open and snack on the arils like popcorn as you go, it can be a fun, almost meditative or social activity.
How to Open a Pomegranate
1) CUT With a sharp paring knife, cut off the top about half an inch below the crown. Four to six sections of the pomegranate divided by the white pith will be visible.
2) SCORE Using the knife’s point, score the skin of the pomegranate along each section.
3) OPEN Carefully pull the pomegranate apart in a bowl of water, breaking it into smaller sections.
4) LOOSEN While submerged, loosen the arils and allow them to sink to the bottom of the bowl.
5) SCOOP The pith will float to the top and can be scooped out with a spoon.
6) STRAIN + ENJOY Pour the arils and remaining liquid through a strainer and enjoy
Pomegranate Wild Rice and Roasted Squash Salad
Makes 8 to 10 servings
For the Rice
1 cup wild rice
2 cups water
1 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ tablespoons olive oil
2 small acorn squash, skin washed
½ cup scallions, sliced
½ cup skinned hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
1½ cups POM POMS Fresh Arils
For the Dressing
2 tablespoons POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
- Put water, pomegranate juice, salt and wild rice into a pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes or until rice has popped and is tender. Drain rice in a colander.
- Cut squash into quarters and remove seeds and stem. Cut each piece into ½-inch slices. Brush squash slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 425°F oven for 20 to 30 minutes until tender, tossing once halfway through.
- For dressing, combine pomegranate juice, vinegar and salt in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil.
- In a large bowl, combine the rice, squash, scallions, nuts, herbs and fresh arils. Mix in half the dressing.
- Serve salad with remaining dressing on the side for anyone who wants to add more.
POM Wonderful Brie Bites
MAKES 30 BITES
1 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of kosher salt
1½ tablespoons low or no-sugar needed pectin
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
½ cup POM POMS Fresh Arils
8 ounces Brie, cut into ¾ inch cubes
30 phyllo pastry cups
2 tablespoons pistachios, chopped, for garnish
- In a small saucepan, stir together the pomegranate juice, lemon juice and salt. Gradually whisk in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil. Stirring constantly, add agave and return to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
- Stir in chili flakes and divide between two 8-ounce canning jars. Let cool to room temp for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After it has cooled, add ¼ cup fresh arils to each jar. Jam can be stored in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
- Heat oven to 325°F. Place phyllo cups on a rimmed baking sheet. Add a cube of cheese in each cup. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes until cups are browned and crisped and cheese has softened.
- Remove from oven and top each bite with ½ teaspoon of jam and some chopped pistachios. Serve warm.
Pink Pom Mousse
MAKES 8 SERVINGS
1½ cups POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons agar-agar powder
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
POM POMS Fresh Arils for garnish
- Combine pomegranate juice and granulated sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a slow boil, and then add agar-agar, continuously stirring. Lower heat to a simmer and stir occasionally for 3 minutes.
- Transfer mixture to heatproof bowl and place in fridge to cool. Let it cool for at least 1 hour. Juice should be cooled, and agar should be starting to set (mixture should jiggle). Alternatively place bowl of mixture over an ice bath and stir until cool.
- In a mixing bowl, whip heavy cream with confectioner’s sugar until firm peaks form. Slowly pour in chilled POM mixture, and with a spatula gently fold into whipped cream, until combined.
- Pour into individual cups or a bowl and place back in fridge to cool for at least 2 hours or up to 5 hours. Garnish with fresh arils right before serving.
Tip: To juice a fresh pomegranate, cut it in half like you would a grapefruit, use a hand-press juicer, and strain the juice through a cheesecloth-lined strainer or sieve.
Thirsty for More? Look for pomegranate cocktail recipes here next week. Cheers!