Recipe Spotlight: No White after Labor Day (OR in the Kitchen When Cooking with Pomegranates)

Recipe Spotlight: No White after Labor Day (OR in the Kitchen When Cooking with Pomegranates)

We grow a lot of fruits in Florida. Most folks barely know about some of them. They are experimental or they come from tiny groves or large backyards. We think of them as foreign flavors.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]

If you look hard you can find plenty of carambola, rambutan, leechee, figs, papaya, and dragon fruit. But you need a big magnifying glass to spot local pomegranates.

Florida scientists and growers are trying varieties that suit our climate just as well as the kind that grow in California. Check farmers’ markets and fruit stands for local fruit. A friend might have a bush that you don’t know about.

The first thing to remember about pomegranates is that they stain—big time. You could write on a space rocket with pomegranate juice and it would probably still be there when the rocket splashes down. That’s how badly pomegranates stain.

Now for some things to do with pomegranates other than salads and garnishes. Because they come from the Middle East you can find plenty of traditional recipes in Lebanese, Armenian and Turkish cookbooks. Let’s go a little off the beaten path and have some good old American fun with them.

First thing to do is get the seeds, called arils, out without spatter painting you and the walls. Get a big bowl of water. Score the peel top to bottom a few times. Plunge the fruit into the water and tear it apart . . . gently. The seeds will sink and the peel and pith will float. Skim off the parts you don’t want and strain the seeds you do.

Now juice the arils. Use a colander and masher or a quick whirr in a blender, but not enough to pulverize the hard seeds. A food mill works too.

Pomegranate molasses is essential to Middle Eastern cooking. It’s easy to make at home once you have the juice. Start with about four cups of pomegranate juice, a half cup of white sugar, and a good jigger of lemon juice. Bring it to a boil in a pan that won’t stain, simmer it until it’s reduced to a cup or a little more. It will be thicker than maple syrup, about the same as very old Balsamic vinegar. Taste as it reduces and add more sugar if you like. Bottle and store in the fridge. A splash of it will do wonders for braised short ribs. Add some to barbecue sauce for ribs. Eggplant Moussaka becomes a new dish with a jigger in the meat sauce.

Orange juice, pomegranate molasses, and club soda make a refreshing drink for the warm days still to come. Plain juice works, too, and is a lot less work.

How about something real cool for adults? Add vodka to pomegranate juice, and pour it over shaved ice for Snow Cones with a kick.

Want to show friends and family that you’re no turkey at Thanksgiving? Make a batch of pomegranate jelly. It takes four cups of juice, a quarter cup lemon juice, one package powdered pectin, and five cups of sugar. Follow the directions on the package. And don’t wear white.


story by TRENT ROWE, Food Editor