This fruit just screams festive. It has a bright red or pink leathery rind skin that protects the beautiful red jewel coloured seeds nestled in a white spongy membranous tissue. The membrane is quite bitter but the seeds, called arils, have a sweet, juicy and acidic flavor. Each pomegranate is about 2 ½ - 5 inches tall. But beyond its beauty, it is also very nutritious. Pomegranate seeds and juice are very high in polyphenols, a potent antioxidant with anticancer and cardioprotective benefits.
Pomegranates are also very high in potassium which is known to help lower blood pressure. They are a source of Vitamin C, niacin and fibre with 3.5g of fibre in ½ cup and 72 calories.
Pomegranates, like apples, store well in cool temperatures. Pomegranates improve with storage becoming more juicy and sweet. When choosing your pomegranate, choose one without any big gashes, cracks or splits in the rind. A few blemishes in the skin or a lighter pink colour is not an indication of the quality of the fruit inside. Choose one that is heavy for its size.
A whole pomegranate can sit on the counter for a couple of weeks (as they often are for decoration during the holidays). In the fridge it will last 3 months. A cut pomegranate should be covered with plastic and stored in the fridge for up to one week. Once you remove the juice filled sacks from the white membrane, they should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and will last 3 days. The arils can also be frozen up to 6 months but will loose their texture and will be better used for their juice.
To cut open a pomegranate, cut the off the calyx (flower) angling downwards slightly into the pith. Score the skin with 4 slits from where you removed the flower to the base of the fruit going through the skin but not into the seeds. Place your thumbs in the hole you made and the top and pull apart the quarters. To remove the seeds or arils you can either eat directly from the quarter or fill a bowl with water and pull off the membrane and arils. The seeds will sink to the bottom and the membrane will float. Skim off the membrane, strain the arils pat dry with paper towel. Serve or store.
Add pomegranate seeds to your favorite fruit salad, sprinkle them on yogurt or oatmeal, add them to a festive green salad or use their juice for a delicious dressing. Simmer the seeds to make a coulis to serve with poultry or lamb.