This month, the Culinary Health Club is spotlighting the pomegranate as one of December’s Power Foods of the Month. This beautiful fruit, sometimes referred to as a Chinese apple, is an original native of Persia. It can be found in the produce section beginning in late autumn. Although the pomegranate is one of the sweetest, most delicious fruits available, many people pass it by because they don’t know how to eat it, or believe it to be too labor intensive to use. One can spend hours trying different methods of removing the arils from a pomegranate (often called deseeding). Below, we take you step by step through one of the most reliable techniques. Following that, we bring you one of the most interesting methods we’ve heard of for deseeding a pomegranate. For ideas about what to do with the arils, check out this month’s issue of Healthy Bites, as well as many of December’s Recipes of the Day showcasing pomegranates.
L: blossom end, R: stem end
Slice off one end of the pomegranate, without going too deep. You don’t want to cut into the arils. Pomegranates have a stem end and a blossom end. Different sites will tell you to cut off one side versus the other. It does not really matter which end you cut. It is merely a way to allow the pomegranate to sit flat on a cutting surface while you remove the arils.
Cut into the red skin of the pomegranate from blossom end to stem end (or vice versa) in six evenly spaced sections, again taking care not to cut too far into the pomegranate. Once all six cuts have been made, gently pull the sections apart from each other. It is best to do this over a cutting board or large bowl to catch any arils that fall out during this part. *NOTE – pomegranate juice stains! Be careful not to get it on clothing, wood counters or floors.
Fill a large bowl with cold water and place the 6 sections into the water. One section at a time, gently roll the arils out with your fingers while the section is submerged. This will keep the juice from spraying onto surfaces. As you separate the arils from the skin and pith of the pomegranate, the arils will sink and the pith will rise to the surface of the water.
When you are done deseeding, you can remove the pith pieces that are floating on top. Strain the arils into a new bowl, discarding water. These arils can be placed in the refrigerator in a closed container for 3-4 days.
For all the adventuresome cooks out there, we tested a second, somewhat innovative, technique. If you have extra time, and pomegranates, to spare, you may want to give it a try.
Step 1: Score the pomegranate with a knife around its midsection, being careful not to cut too deep. Holding the pomegranate in the palms of both hands, place thumbs along the scored line and gently pull the two halves apart.
Holding one half with fingers on the bottom and thumbs on the edges, very gently pull in opposite directions to slightly loosen arils. Rotate the half and do this once or twice more. Turn half over and, holding it in your palm over large bowl, firmly whack the back of the pomegranate with a sturdy wooden spoon repeatedly, until arils have fallen out into bowl. Repeat with other half until all arils have been released from skin and pith. Although there is the possibility that this will work, here is what can go wrong:
The wooden spoon breaks.
The pomegranate implodes.
We suggest Method #2 for those seeking adventure and/or anger management.
If you have a method for deseeding pomegranates, adventuresome or otherwise, please share it with us! And make sure you take advantage of our 10% discount for CHC members on this spectacular super food throughout the month of December.