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Pomegranates add twist to holiday table

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Pomegranate seeds are edible and delicious. The seeds are wrapped in an inedible white membrane, but the bright red pulp offers a sweet-tart taste with hints of cranberry, rhubarb, red currant and concord grape.

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By Mary Morris
Chowan County Extension

Sunday, November 26, 2017

These seasonal crimson berries (the size of an orange) are now visible in the grocery store, you may be wondering what do I do with a pomegranate? You may be more familiar with the health push in recent years to drink more pomegranate juice; it is delicious and has lots of nutritional value. Pomegranates are rich in vitamins B and C as well as potassium, protein, carbohydrates and fiber. Pomegranate juice is known for its cancer fighting, heart disease prevention properties and claims to help lower blood pressure.

For fruits and vegetables generally the “real” fresh fruit is the best for you, so go ahead and pick one up, take it home and try it. This fruit is in season in late fall and winter and has many options. When you cut open a pomegranate you will find the inside is filled with seeds. The Pomegranate seeds are edible and delicious. The seeds are wrapped in an inedible white membrane, but the bright red pulp offers a sweet-tart taste with hints of cranberry, rhubarb, red currant and concord grape.

Pomegranate seeds may be easily and cleanly removed by breaking apart the fruits in four or five pieces and submerging in a large bowl of water. The edible seeds will sink and the white inedible membrane will float and is easily skimmed away. The best way is just get your hands in it and pluck the seeds out, they are quite messy. The seeds may simply be eaten raw as a snack or added into salads, relishes, garnishes or desserts. The juice is highly flavorful on its own, but may be reduced down into pomegranate molasses or fermented into pomegranate vinegar. Complimentary flavors include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, clove, coconut, lemon, grapefruit, orange, apple, pear, honey, almond, hazelnuts, curry, lamb, chicken and pork. They go with just about any and all types of meats.

How to juice a pomegranate

If you want the juice, but not the seeds, you have a number of options:

• Food mill to grind fresh juice from the seeds, leaving the seeds trapped in the mill.

• Pulse the pips in a blender with short bursts and strain.

• Cut the fruits in half crosswise and ream them as you would a lemon.

• Place the seeds in a sealed plastic freezer bag and roll over them with a rolling pin.

So now that you have the seeds now what? They are delicious in salads used in glazes, or added to drinks. The bright red color will add a pop to any Holiday dish. There is a little more work involved in this fruit but it is worth it, especially if you want to add something different to a special dish with the added health benefits.

Below are some recipes that might add a different twist to your holiday table.

Mary Morris is director and family and consumer sciences agent for Chowan County Cooperative Extension

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