How-To: Eat a Pomegranate – Natures Juice Box By Wendy Tremayne It is pomegranate season. Starting in September and continuing through February pomegranates all over the northern hemisphere are ripening. Native to Persia, popular in the Middle East and India, the pom is now cultivated all over the world. It was not until 2002, however, when a variety of U.S. studies pointed towards the fruit’s health benefits, that pomegranate juice made it to U.S. grocery shelves. Perhaps the most curious thing about the fruit’s long history, evidenced in literature since the written word began, is the fact that few people know how to eat one. There are more than 700 varieties of pomegranates. Each fruit contains 600 or more juice-encapsulating seeds that range in taste from sweet to sour (higher tannins) and in color from pale yellow to red and dark purple. The pomegranate’s nutritional value includes a good deal of vitamin C, B, and potassium, as well as antioxidant properties. Studies suggest that the pom offers benefits in preventing and/or treating health conditions such as prostate cancer, diabetes, lymphoma, the common cold, atherosclerosis, and coronary artery disease.
The pomegranate’s romantic lore goes back in history. The Greeks explain the seasons of the year by the number of pomegranate seeds eaten by the goddess Persephone. In Hinduism an alternate name for Lord Ganesha is interpreted as the one who is fond of the many seeded fruit. The Jews recognize the 600+ seeds of the single fruit as metaphor for the 613 commandments of the Torah. The Qur’an mentions the pom as evidence of the great things God creates. Christian paintings of the bursting-open pomegranate represent the outpouring of the suffering of Jesus. The list goes on. Perhaps the most essential thing we can learn about the peculiarly designed fruit is how to eat it. How does one extract the juice from the hundreds of small pouches that also contain a hard (and less edible) seed? The methods are many and include scoring the skin with a knife and breaking it open into sections, then separating the arils (juice-containing pods) while holding the fruit under water. This allows the arils to float to the top of the water and be scooped up by hand or using a strainer. But this method leaves us with the hard seeds at the center of the juice pods. It is also possible to freeze the whole fruit to ease the task of separating the arils from the membrane (skin). Some folks juice the arils in a citrus juicer and then strain out the seeds with a fine mesh strainer. My favorite method is perhaps the least known. It is waste free, tool free, uses only human energy, and separates the seeds from the juice perfectly. Step 1: Roll all sides of your pomegranate along a hard surface in a back-n-forth motion. The membrane of the fruit will soften as the juice filled seeds pop and release the juice into the membrane. Step 2: Continue to roll the fruit until the whole membrane is soft and it feels like the inside is full of liquid. Puncture a hole anywhere in the fruit and suck. Step 3: The inside of the fruit is divided with soft membrane walls dividing the fruit interior in sections. You may suck all the juice out of one part and then need to puncture new holes to access the other parts. Poke around and make new holds each time the juice seems to run out and until your fruit feels empty. Toss the membrane anywhere. It is perfect compost and will naturally break down in the environment. About the Author: Wendy Tremayne is renovating an RV park into a 100% reuse, off-grid B&B in Truth or Consequences, N.M. Another project, Swap-O-Rama-Rama, is a clothing swap and DIY workshop designed to offer people an alternative to consumerism.