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Pomegranates & pomegranate molasses

The ancient pomegranate

This ancient ovarian-like fruit, filled with up to 1000 jewel-like seeds, has been used medically by many cultures for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used pomegranates to treat tapeworm and infections. In Ayurvedic medicine the various parts of the pomegranate are used to treat everything from stopping nose bleeds to propping up sagging breasts. (Hmmm... another plus for pomegranate martinis!)

Modern views on the benefits of pomegranates

Pomegranates are rich in vitamin C, Vitamin K, potassium, folate and fiber. There are many studies on the health benefits of pomegranates, but most of these studies are preliminary.  POM Wonderful was recently slapped down by the FDA for making health claims without enough supporting scientific evidence. This does not mean pomegranates are not good for you, it just means we don't have enough knowledge to make specific curative or preventative claims.

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Seasonality

In the northern hemisphere pomegranates are in season in the late summer to early winter (roughly August through February). In the southern hemisphere, pomegranate season is March to May. So if you have access to imported pomegranates, you can find them most of the year.

How to seed a pomegranate

To seed a Pomegranate, cut a pointed cap from the flowering end of the Pomegranate, without cutting through the seeds. Then, avoiding the seeds again, slice a flat disc off the bottom of the fruit, and with this end of the Pomegranate on a flat surface, score the edges of the fruit along the visible ridges. Finally, break the fruit into sections and pop out the seeds

Removing the seeds, called arils, from pomegranates can be a challenge. There are all sorts of methods, from beating their skins with a wooden spoon, to removing the seeds underwater, to slicing them in half and and inverting the halves so they are inside out. After doing quite a bit of research and experimentation, I think I have found THE BEST method to seed a pomegranate, thanks to Dana Velden at The Kitchen. This method is so effective that you almost don't need to wear an apron and will complete the task without staining your fingers or cutting board. The key is to not cut through the seeds. Cutting through the seeds is what makes a mess. Here is what you do:

Pomegranate health and nutritional information, the best way to seed a pomegranate, pomegranate season and pomegranate molasses
Start by cutting a pointed cap off of the flowering end of the pomegranate. The goal is to remove a lot of the pith, without cutting into the seeds.

 

Pomegranate health and nutritional information, the best way to seed a pomegranate, pomegranate season and pomegranate molasses

Next, flip the pomegranate over and slice a flat disk off the bottom of the fruit, again, taking care not to cut through the seed.

 

Pomegranate health and nutritional information, the best way to seed a pomegranate, pomegranate season and pomegranate molasses
Now set the fruit down on the cutting board with the flower-side up. Looking down at the fruit you will notices 5 or 6 ridges running from the top of the fruit to the bottom. Using your paring knife, score the edges of the fruit, again, taking care not to cut through the seeds.

 

Pomegranate health and nutritional information, the best way to seed a pomegranate, pomegranate season and pomegranate molasses

Pomegranate health and nutritional information, the best way to seed a pomegranate, pomegranate season and pomegranate molasses
Now, using your hands break the pomegranate apart into segments.

 

Pomegranate health and nutritional information, the best way to seed a pomegranate, pomegranate season and pomegranate molasses
The seeds of each segment will now easily pop out. No need to work underwater where you risk losing some of the juices. The uncut pomegranate seeds will not stain your hands.

 

Pomegranate health and nutritional information, the best way to seed a pomegranate, pomegranate season and pomegranate molasses You now have a nice bowl of pomegranate seeds to eat as is or throw into salads.

How long will pomegranates keep?

Once a pomegranate is picked, it will not ripen further. A ripe pomegranate will keep for a week or more if it is set on the counter or in a fruit bowl, but the final shelf life will depend on how old the pomegranate was when you purchased it. You can increase the shelf life to up to two or three months by refrigerating. Some claim you can freeze pomegranate seeds for up to 12 months. I have not tried this yet, but will let you know next year. To freeze pomegranate seeds spread the seeds out on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Freeze for a couple hours and then store them in a plastic bag or plastic container in the freezer.

Pomegranate molasses

Pomegranate molasses, is a wonderful ingredient that is essential to Persian cuisine and used in a variety of Middle Eastern foods. It is simply a reduction of pomegranate juice and sometimes sugar and lemon juice. You can make it yourself, or purchase it at Middle Eastern grocery stores or online.

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Recipes using pomegranates and pomegranate molasses

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