Editor’s Note: In January 2019, the Institute of Culinary Education launched the Natural Gourmet Center, a plant-centric and wellness-driven culinary arts program. We’ll be featuring plant-based cooking tips from their instructors here.
Pomegranate is a deep crimson-colored fruit that comes into season in the depth of autumn. In ancient cultures, pomegranates were associated with prosperity or fertility, due to the fruit’s hundreds of ruby-red arils. Each sweet, juicy aril surrounds a white seed in the center, coming together to produce a jewel-like wonder that lends itself to sweet and savory dishes alike. It is sure to add a festive note to most any dish.
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How to Open a Pomegranate
There is more than one way to attempt to open a pomegranate without making a total mess. (The juice is a notorious stain-maker.)
- Method 1: Cut the pomegranate in half with a sharp knife, submerge it in a roomy bowl of water, and pry the segments apart with your fingers to loosen the seeds. Most of the white membrane, or pith, will float to the top. Scoop out and discard the pith. Scoop up the arils with a mesh strainer.
- Method 2: Slice off the top of the pomegranate to expose the segments, and use a knife to cut along the pith lines to release the segments of seeds.
- Method 3: Halve the pomegranate crosswise. Use a knife to make small cuts along the pith lines. Working over a bowl, hold the fruit cut-side down in the palm of your hand and use a heavy spoon or ladle to firmly hit the back of the pomegranate to loosen the seeds into the bowl.
Discard or compost the inedible white membranes and blush-colored peels. To separate any lingering membranes from arils, just place them in a bowl of water. The white membranes should float to the surface, where you can scoop them out, leaving only the seeds.
How to Select and Store
Choose heavier pomegranates that have a bright and firm flesh. Pomegranates are less likely to dry out or oxidize into an unpleasant brown shade when wrapped and stored in the refrigerator.
Pomegranate seeds should be consumed within two to three days of purchase. If you won’t be eating them within three days, freeze them: Spread out seeds on a baking sheet; place the baking sheet in the freezer for a few hours; transfer the frozen seeds to an airtight container for long-term freezer storage.
How to Use It
Add to smoothie bowls; oatmeal; and peanut butter or avocado toast; or sprinkle over pancakes.
Upgrade your salads
Add a handful to grain salads, massaged kale or an autumnal slaw.
Top chia puddings for a burst of flavor, or add to juice and freeze into popsicles.
Sprinkle over roasted vegetables
Try pairing with sweet potatoes, eggplant or delicata squash — the possibilities are really endless.
Add a handful of seeds to a creamy soup just before serving.
Pair with herbs
The flavor of pomegranates shines when served with cilantro, mint, parsley, or sage.
Crush and steep in apple cider vinegar for a fruity, blush-toned infusion. (See these tips for infusing vinegar.)