Monday, August 8, 2011

How to Cut Open a Pomegranate (or: Pomegranate Passion)

We still have a case of mango madness in our house, but we're all about equal opportunity when it comes to seasonal fruit (with the exception of papayas, which I hate). Therefore, with pomegranates coming into season in Nepal, we decided that these special fruits deserved their own blog post too.

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While not as cheap as mangoes, pomegranates ring in at about $1 per fruit -- not bad when you consider how pricey they can be in the U.S.

I feel like pomegranates got a big boost in the U.S. a few years ago when everyone got on an antioxidant kick. But did you know that pomegranates have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years? I did not either, until I got a bad case of food poisoning when I first arrived in Nepal, and the prescribed remedy was tea made from boiled pomegranate leaves.

Like mangoes, pomegranates require a little more investment than, say, bananas. With mangoes, you have to give into sticky fingers; with pomegranates, you have to commit to a process that requires a bit of patience. The results, though, are well worth it, and we're going to make it easier on you by sharing a quick guide.

When selecting pomegranates, choose fruits that feel heavy and have a firm exterior. When you're ready to dive in, start by slicing off the top of the pomegranate, about 1/2 inch down the fruit. Then score the pomegranate skin lengthwise, dividing the fruit into roughly four sections. Holding the fruit over a large bowl filled with water, break open the pomegranate into its sections.

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The seeds are revealed!

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Working on one section at a time, start separating the red seeds from the peel in your bowl of water. By doing this process in water, you make the separation process much easier, as the white pith floats to the top while the seeds sink to the bottom.

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That's not my hand.

After you remove all the seeds, you will be left with this.

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Scoop out the pith from the top of the bowl and then drain the water. All that remains are the beautiful red seeds, which look a lot like corn kernels (or, as Brian likes to say, nature's candy corn).

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Pomegranate seeds are great on their own and serve as an excellent topping for just about anything: salads, yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal. They add a subtly sweet flavor and a totally unique crunch.

Now: what is your favorite way to eat pomegranates?

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