Dear Timaree: “I’ve tried to eat a pomegranate before, but it has ended up making a mess and staining my clothes! How do you deal with the fruit and are they good for you?”
About a month ago, I got “the call”… a close friend of mine informed me that the “Pomegranate Lady” at Lower Sacramento Road and Harney Lane was open for business!!!! I GO CRAZY for pomegranates, and want to tell you how to extract them without crushing the arils or staining your wardrobe or kitchen!
1. Fill a large bowl with water.
2. Carefully slice off the top and bottom of the pomegranate(s).
3. Score the skin along the sides of the pomegranate several times – making “segments”
4. While holding the pomegranate underwater in the bowl, pry the pomegranate apart into the segments at the score lines
5. Carefully free the arils underwater and discard the rest (white structure and skin)
6. Drain the water and spread the arils on paper towels to get rid of excess moisture.
7. Transfer the arils covered loosely with a damp paper towel to a plastic or glass food storage container.
The arils will stay fresh for a week or more kept like this in the refrigerator (and can even be frozen in freezer-friendly zip-top bags).
These gorgeous little red “gifts” not only add a burst of flavor and crunch to many dishes, but they are an amazingly high in antioxidants (tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid) that can protect our cells and reduce our risk of heart disease and cancer, but also provide 5 grams of fiber (per half cup) and only 80 calories. While it may be hard for you to resist just popping a handful in your mouth, arils are also wonderful on cold cereal, in oatmeal, in fruit salads, green salads and guacamole, sprinkled over savory main dishes. Try one of my daughter’s favorite fruit salads with pomegranates: Mia’s Apple Salad Be sure to buy some pomegranates soon, as their season will be over before we know it! If you buy several, you can store them whole in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator for many weeks until you are ready for the arils. For more recipe ideas and other info: www.pomegranates.org
Timaree Hagenburger, is a registered dietitian and certified health fitness specialist with a master’s degree in public health. She is a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College, does corporate wellness work, as well as professional speaking engagements and teaches hands-on cooking/nutrition classes.
My article was published in the Lodi News Sentinel on December 1, 2010.