Passion For Pomegranates
Source: By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers
Pomegranates are quite unique. Slightly sweet. Slightly tart. Pomegranates are fun to eat, but they do require a little work. Inside the crimson-colored fruit, you'll find exactly 840 arils. These are seeds surrounded by a sac of sweet-tart juice. The arils are held together in layers resembling honeycomb. Simply peel off the arils and pop them in your mouth for a burst of pomegranate goodness.
For those of us looking for great flavor with "open and enjoy" convenience, there are several brands of pomegranate juice on the market to quench your thirst and deliver an antioxidant punch.
At the market: Pomegranates are available fresh from October through January. Pomegranates are picked when ripe, so when you see them in stores, they are ready to eat. When selecting a pomegranate, consider that the heavier the fruit is, the juicier it will be.
Pomegranate juice is sold under several brand names. You'll find pomegranate juice in the produce or juice sections of the market. Check the label to ensure you are purchasing 100% pomegranate juice.
Storage: Whole fruits can be stored for a month in a cool, dry area or refrigerated up to two months. When frozen, the arils or juice will keep for several months in airtight containers.
The Art of Eating a Pomegranate: At first glance, the pomegranate appears a bit intimidating. Here's the quickest way to harvest the arils from the skin:
§ Cut off the crown and then cut the pomegranate into sections.
§ Place a section in a bowl of water. Using your fingers, gently separate the red arils from the skin. The arils will sink, and the white skin will float to the top.
§ Discard the skin—it is not edible. Drain the water by pouring the arils into a colander or strainer.
Note: Pomegranate juice stains fingers, clothes, and carpeting. Sitting at the kitchen table or outside is the best place to enjoy pomegranates.
Here are some creative and simple ideas to include pomegranates into your family meals:
Dressings and marinades: Pomegranate juice has an acidic, citrusy flavor, making it a great substitute for citrus in marinades and salad dressings. Simply substitute the same quantity of pomegranate juice in a recipe that calls for orange, lemon, or grapefruit juice. Pomegranate flavor is also a great complement to lamb. Here is a simple recipe that uses a pomegranate marinade that is perfect for making lamb kabobs.
Pomegranate-Marinated Lamb Kabobs
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. dried rosemary or 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
In a large bowl, whisk together pomegranate juice, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic. Add lamb cubes and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
Thread lamb equally onto bamboo or metal skewers. Place skewers on medium-hot BBQ or a lightly greased grill pan on medium heat. Cook, turning often until meat is well browned outside, but pink in the center, about 10–15 minutes. Serves 6.
Enjoy a pomegranate soda: Start with tall glass filled with a few ice cubes. Pour sparkling water to half full. Then, fill to the top with 100% pomegranate juice. Garnish with sprig of fresh mint or a lemon twist.
Return of a classic: Many years ago, grenadine was made from pomegranates. Sadly, bottled versions today are made with artificial flavor and food coloring—no pomegranates at all. To put the pomegranate back into grenadine, make your own at home. It's easy!
In a small saucepan, simmer 2 cups of pomegranate juice over medium heat and cook until reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat and add 1 cup sugar, stirring constantly until dissolved, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Store in a tightly closed jar or container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Along with making a great Tequila Sunrise or Shirley Temple, this pomegranate syrup is a tasty treat. Here are some great ways to use this syrup:
§ Drizzle over pancakes, waffles, or French toast
§ Stir into plain yogurt, smoothies, or oatmeal
§ Pour over frozen yogurt, ice cream, or pound cake
Great garnish: Pomegranate arils add a dash of color, flavor, and texture to many dishes.
Try sprinkling or tossing arils in:
Guacamole or salsa
Salads—green, spinach, or fruit
Brown rice, couscous, or quinoa
Pomegranate-Infused BBQ Chicken: Put some zip into store-bought BBQ sauce by combining a ½ cup of pomegranate juice and ½ cup of BBQ sauce in a saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Baste the sauce over a chicken while it's baking or slather over chicken in the final minutes of grilling.
About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children, and founders of Fresh Baby ( www.FreshBaby.com ). They are the creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats, available at many fine specialty stores and national chains, including Target and Whole Foods Markets.