Pomegranates might have been the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, but since no one in the real First Family left a grocery list of things to eat and not eat, we really don’t know for sure. We do know, however, that they are a lot more challenging to prepare than apples. Pomegranates are often said to be difficult to peel and the juice is almost sure to leave its calling card on your clothes, so here are some basic practices to keep in mind:
RULE 1: Don’t wear white or light clothes when working with pomegranates.
RULE 2: Don’t expect your hands to be lily-white in the near future.
RULE 3: If juice gets on the counter or floor, wipe it up quickly, unless you want a mauve counter or floor.
To get the seeds out, first slice off the calyx (that’s the open part with fine, wiggly things on one end). Then, score the skin into quarters. Fill a large bucket or bowl with water, and submerge the fruit. Pry open the fruit along the score lines and pop off the seeds, called arils, with your thumb. Break the fruit apart as you go. The good arils will sink to the bottom and everything else will come to the top. Remove the floating debris and pour the seeds and water into a strainer. After you have done a few pomegranates, the job takes only a few minutes.
To get juice, you can whir the seeds in a blender and then strain out the solids. Pomegranate seeds are nature’s glamorous garnish. No matter where you put them, they make a dish look pretty and interesting.
A few tossed with cooked rice (brown or basmati, please) makes instant eye candy. Try the same thing with rice pudding or fancy up a nanner puddin’ with a few of the bright red seeds for a parfait. The green of pistachio pudding is a wonderful contrast to bright red arils.
There isn’t much point to using pomegranate seeds where they won’t stand out for their beauty. Make an arranged salad of orange sections, endive leaves, watercress, avocado slices, and shrimp. Then sprinkle with bright arils. For a dressing whir, blend or whip pomegranate juice, mild oil, Dijon mustard, a little garlic, salt and pepper.
Pears are the unappreciated dessert fruit. You can make them the hit of any party by peeling, leave the stem on, cut the bottom flat and simmer in a mixture of pomegranate juice and sweet wine (port, muscatel or Riesling) until the pears are tender. Cook them lying down and turn to make the color even. Cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom will bring a new dimension to the liquid. Remove the pears and simmer the liquid to a syrup. Serve a pear upright surrounded by pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of the syrup. Now, use your imagination … and serve up something prepared with pomegranate.
article by TRENT ROWE
Trent Rowe is the food editor for Central Florida Media Group.