Sunday, October 25, 2009

Yay! Pomegranate Time - Score to Score

After Opening Hundreds, Here's my Findings on the Best Way to Open Pomegranates + two ways to store them
Nutritious, delicious, and seemingly exotic, pomegranate is my daughter's favorite fruit.  In the fall and winter when pomegranates are available fresh from California for as little as $1.50, we indulge, and like mixed-up squirrels with zip-lock bags and a freezer, we also pack the seeds away for summer and spring.  I have hence
opened hundreds of pomegranates and after much experimenting, am sharing my findings with you on the best way to eat this exceptional fruit.

Opening the pomegranate: Score to Score
The pomegranate is full of hundreds of luscious, vitamin and antioxidant packed, deep burgundy, yummy, fruit-covered seeds called "arils".   When you split an aril the juice goes flying.  In your mouth this is joyful burst, on your clothes it is an "oy" full bust.  Since we all have enough laundry, I recommend the former.   This means not cutting through the arils, which in turn means not cutting through the pomegranate. 

Step 1.
With a sharp knife tip, score the pomegranate in a circle 1/2 inch from the crown.  Only go deep enough to cut the peel - do not slice through or you'll end up with a pool of juice and wasted arils.

Step 2
With your fingers, pry off the 1/2 inch of peel towards the crown.  You will now be able to see the four to six sections of the pomegranate.  (Much like an orange or grapefruit.)

Step 3. 
With a sharp knife tip, score the skin at each section.

Step 4.
With your fingers, pull off a section.  Peel back any white membranes covering the arils. 

Step 5
Now the arils are exposed and ready to eat! You can either pluck out the arils with your fingertips or let your child do this part.  When I'm not bagging and freezing, I let my children pull out their own.  My older daughter is already an expert and my "self, self, self" almost 2-year old wouldn't have it any other way. 

Though nothing like the spill caused by cutting through an entire pomegranate, step 4 and 5 can end up in an occasional burst aril.  You can therefore choose to do this step underwater in a bowl.  (Make sure to wash the outside of the pomegranate first if you do this.)  An added plus is that the arils sink while the membranes float to the top making separation easy.  Still, I don't usually bother.  But this reminds me of a key step I almost forgot: the bib!

Especially if your children are plucking the arils out themselves, but even if they are eating from a bowl, bibs are a good idea.  And be sure to check the floor around the highchair and pick up promptly.  From first hand experience I can tell you that stepping on arils makes colorful socks.

Storing Pomegranates
One way to store pomegranates is arils only, in the freezer.   Put the arils in a zip lock bag, removing as much air as possible.  Then put that zip lock bag in a bigger zip lock bag.  Freeze.

Another way, we discovered by surprise.  Keep the whole pomegranate in the back of your fridge for months.  Pomegranate arils keep amazing well in their skins.  The skin gets hard and dry but the seeds inside stay fresh and juicy.  Here's a short video clip which shows us trying a one year old pomegranate.   To our amazement, the year old pomegranate tasted better than the first pomegranate of the season.  Stock up while they're in season!

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