Red and leathery, the round-ish pomegranate fruit can look a little foreign. What's more, you can't bite into this juicy fruit—and they aren't easy to peel. But, look beyond the exterior. Because what lies beneath this fruit's skin is a brilliant, tart (but slightly sweet) taste.
Pomegranates' uniqueness—both their flavor and red, jewel-like appearance—make them the perfect addition to many holiday dishes. But first, you need to free those little red jewels from their thick skin. How do you do that?
What to Look For When Choosing a Pomegranate
Pomegranates aren't available year round, so there's many months of the year where you won't see this fruit on produce shelves.
But when pomegranates are in season—which is generally from October through February—you'll want to look for fruits with unblemished skin that feel heavy for their size. Pomegranates have little arils (the fruit's seeds) filled with liquid; so the heavier one feels, the juicier it will be.
How to Open a Pomegranate
Now that you have your pomegranate, what will you do with it? First, and most importantly, you need to free the pomegranate arils from their confines. Much like oranges and grapefruits, pomegranates are sectional fruits. So, the key to seeding a pomegranate is separating it into those sections. Here's how:
The first method involves a little detective work. Find the subtle ridges—little raised lines—that run down the sides of the pomegranate. Cut through the skin, not too deeply. Then separate the sections with your fingers. This method allows you to potentially retrieve all the arils without any lost to accidental cutting.
The second method can be a little messier, since you are likely to sacrifice a few arils in cutting. But it's a little easier to see where to cut. Slice off the top and bottom of the pomegranate, exposing the tops and bottoms of the sections. Then cut to separate them.
Once sectioned, hold each section one at a time over a bowl. Push on the arils gently and they will fall into the bowl. Continue until you've collected all the arils.
How to Use Pomegranate in Your Cooking
Ahhh, you have a bowl of juicy, brilliant pomegranate arils. Now what? Time to enjoy them! Here are some ways to use pomegranate arils in cooking for delicious results.
1. In Salads
Pomegranate arils add a festive pop to salads. Moreover, the sweet-tart flavor is a wonderful contrast to other flavors and textures. Try them on your green salad or sprinkled on your dinner salad. Some flavors they work particularly well with: chicken, avocado, lettuce and pepitas.
2. Mixed into Guacamole
Oh guacamole. It's green goodness is much appreciated at many a party. But if you want to take yours from good to excellent, stir in some pomegranate arils. The creamy goodness of guacamole will take on new dimensions with the burst of flavor pomegranate arils add to each bite.
3. Sprinkle on Roasted Veggies
From roasted brussels sprouts to tender roasted cauliflower, pomegranate arils add a pleasant pop to vegetable dishes. They're particularly good when the roasted veggies are hot and the arils are cold.
4. Stir into Drinks
From gin and tonics to screwdrivers to glasses of wine, adding pomegranate arils to your cocktails makes for a festive presentation. They can also add a pleasant flavor too if you muddle the arils when adding them.
But don't be limited to cocktails. Pomegranate arils can also be a fun addition to mocktails, juices, sparkling juice or even a glass of seltzer. The possibilities are endless.
5. Mix into Bruschetta Toppings
This favorite antipasto—grilled bread rubbed with garlic—is a fantastic vessel for so many toppings. When you're mixing up yours, add a palmful of pomegranate arils.
6. Serve with Cheese
Planning a cheese plate? Add a bowl of pomegranate arils. Sprinkled on brie or enjoyed with goat cheese or whatever your favorite cheese is, the juicy pomegranate arils are a lovely contrast to creamy, rich, smooth cheeses.
7. Juice Them
Did you know that you can make your own pomegranate juice? Simply blend the arils and then strain with a fine mesh strainer into a glass. (Hint: if yours still has too many seeds and skins, use cheesecloth in the strainer to capture more.)
Now, what are you waiting for? Go get a pomegranate and have fun with it!