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Pomegranates - what am I missing?

Last year around Thanksgiving I brought a couple of pomegranates. Looked up how to get seeds out of the fibrous stuff. Either the ones I bought were dried out or didn't do it properly (entirely possible), was less than impressed with the end result. How do you prepare a pomegranate? What tips on how to buy a good one? Here in Central Ohio, dependent on super market. Thanks!

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  1. There is a method which involves cutting the rind, splitting the beast and tapping. There even may be a chow video tip but it doesn't work for me. I use a technique similar to this:

    http://mideastfood.about.com/od/tipsa...

    Pomegranate 101

    http://www.jjdst.com/category_mgmt.cf...

    1. I just had big, sweet, slightly tart pomegranites with very little pith and easy to seed and eat - in Tajikistan - a center of its origin.

      1. I saw the chow video on de-seeding a pomegranate, but my favorite method is the "under-water" trick! Cut into a pomegranate enough to break the rest in half with your hands. Then break the pomegranate in a big bowl of water, submerging your hands and the fruit completely in the water. You'll find the seeds are easier to get out. The juicy little seeds sink right to the bottom and most of the pith (the white stuff that you toss out) floats to the top. :o)

        3 Replies
        1. re: Sra. Swanky

          Ditto on this. I found the soaking method somewhere else a while back, and it works very well.

          1. re: tatamagouche

            I'm a water method too. Works great and doesn't stain your hands if you break any seeds. :) I cut it first, and let it soak for a few minutes before trying to separate it.

          2. re: Sra. Swanky

            Agreed - definitely the easiest way to get the arils out. I've got a friend who lives in So. California who has a Pomegranate bush (tree?) and so far has 15 quarts of pom juice and still has another 100 or so Poms to go. But when she wants the arils themselves, she uses the underwater method as well.

            Plus, the arils freeze well for use later.

          3. Pomegranates are definitely an acquired taste.

            Many people find them a bit too tart, bordering on sucking on a lemon.

            24 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              I'm in the camp of those who dislike 'em. The tartness doesn't bother me, rather the work/reward ratio leaves a lot to be desired. Even the juice is kind of meh. I don't hate them, but I really don't get why they were so hot a couple years back.

              1. re: invinotheresverde

                Honest to goodness, I think even the people that "like" them only do so because of the health benefits, and merely tolerate the taste (and effort to get at those seeds and flesh).

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Right, because that totally explains their enduring popularity across time and a very large geography.

                  1. re: tmso

                    Actually, I was just referring to their recent popularity in the U.S.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Not at all! I think those little sweet-tart juicy beads are glorious.

                      1. re: tatamagouche

                        Ditto, I think they're brilliant and have for ages. They're work but worth it. And I'm not thinking about health, but the taste.

                        That said, I've not yet learned how to pick ideal ones from the lot. How do I tell if they're good and neither rotten nor dry? Help?

                        1. re: Lizard

                          As someone mentioned further down in the thread, it is better to select the larger ones. The Chow ingrediants sums it up nicely
                          http://www.chow.com/ingredients/21

                          "Purchase: Choose large, brightly-colored, shiny pomegranates that are firm to the touch and heavy for their size. Pomegranates are ripe when they make a metallic sound when tapped.

                          Avoid: Overripe fruits tend to have cracks in their skin. Avoid bruised, shriveled, dull, or overly hard pomegranates."

                          I find the smaller sizes, not worth the effort.Even then, despite best efforts, there's sometimes a clunker that looks and feels swell but is moldy or dried out. Never rely on a single pomegrante ... buy a bunch.

                          Hmmm .. until reading that link I didn't know that they don't react well to aluminum or carbon steel ... it brings out bitterness.

                          Last year I learned on Chowhound the seeds can be frozen without much degradation. However, I usuall just keep the kernels in glass jars for a few weeks in the fridge.

                          I like them mixed in oatmeal (nice with chopped apple or persimon) or mixed into yogurt. They are nice on a green salad paired again with persimon or apple). I made a fab jello last week using pomegranate juice and dropped some whole kernels in ... delicous. I also like to make jello out of Juicy Juice orange tangerine juice and throw in a few kernels.

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    I started eating them in the mid-50s, long before they were considered healthful. Where my husband went to college there was a tradition to buy your date a pomegranate to eat during the first football game of the season. Yes, it was a mess, but I loved the taste right away. Now I watch for the price to come down, and the size of the of the fruit to be large. I buy several, seed them all, and have a container of seeds in the fridge. They're wonderful in rice, couscous, and especially lovely on hot cereal like oatmeal. I find they add sparkle to all sorts of savory foods, too. To each his own!

                    1. re: Pat Hammond

                      pat, they keep well in the fridge? that is a good idea. at my local grocery stores, one was charging 3.00 each -- the other place was 1.50.

                      what prices are others seeing?

                      1. re: alkapal

                        A week ago, I saw 1.50 at Trader Joe's. That's the best I've seen here (NE Ohio) so far. I can't expect them to get cheaper than a dollar each. I think that's the best they get, If I remember correctly. The end of the season usually brings a vendor to the farmer's market who gets the biggest California pomegranates I have ever seen. They seem to get larger every year-lol!

                        The seeds can keep for weeks in the fridge BTW.

                        1. re: madgreek

                          oh, that's good to know about longevity in the fridge. i love them sprinkled on salads, or hummus. i think they are featured in several posts on the "pimp my autumn salad" thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/456931

                        2. re: alkapal

                          Yes, they'll keep a long time, as others have attested, but I go through them pretty fast anyway. I think they're about 1.50 here in my Mexican market too, but they'll go lower.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            That's a bargain. Try $5- each! (Montana- we don't grow em here, that's for sure.) I am anxious to try the water method. Have only had the POM juice to this point.

                            1. re: Greatfallsdeb

                              I bought three nice ones yesterday for .99 cents each. That's about the best price we'll get. We don't grow them in New York either!

                            2. re: alkapal

                              Two for $1 at one farmers market. At most of the others $2 lb. At the Berkeley Bowl they ranged from 69 cents for smallish to $1.59 for huge. It is the start of the season. Prices will come down ... at least in the SF Bay Area. .

                            3. re: Pat Hammond

                              I also started keeping a container full in the fridge and I like your add-in ideas. We usually just open the container and eat spoonfulls straight:)

                              Thank god though for learning the peel under water trick!!

                              I grew up eating these so I find them somewhat comfortfoodish...

                              1. re: Pat Hammond

                                I remember eating them back in the 60's. My mom was not a gourmet cook, nor a particularly good cook, but for some reason we had pomegranates, and I always liked them. We just ate them like any other fruit. Nothing fancy, just eat.

                                1. re: Pat Hammond

                                  That football game tradition sounds like something out of a YA novel, the kind I used to read and yearn for my college days to come. Utterly charming.

                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                  My son, who's now an adult, took a liking to them when he was just a little kid and still adores them. I don't think he was merely tolerating the taste at the age of five.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Nonsense.
                                    I've enjoyed these little beasties since my childhood 50 years ago when my mom brought home these "chinese apples". Like many foods, you either love 'em or you don't. I love 'em as much as ever.

                                    1. re: The Professor

                                      I also grew up in the 50's, and for us, "Chinese Apples" were always an autumn treat. I grew up in Brooklyn, Professor, what about you? I've never heard them called Chinese apples by anyone but Brooklynites.

                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                        I grew up in central NJ, Woodbridge/Perth Amboy area...a mere hop/skip/jump from Brooklyn.

                                        I wonder how they came to be called Chinese Apples anyway?

                                        1. re: The Professor

                                          In Michigan we called them Indian Apples.

                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                      No way!!

                                      I LOVE 'em - and I have since I was a kid.

                                      when I was a child I used to absolutely love all the work involved...opening new sections to find a mass of the beautiful sweet/tart goodness.
                                      As I grew older the task of eating one did become quite tedious to me...so I ate them less frequently.
                                      However in the last few years - in NYC markets you can find them already "Shucked"!!
                                      Yes little plastic tubs filled with the little berries.Perfect!
                                      They are ridiculously over-priced - but so worth not having to go through all the hassle!

                                3. This is my favorite fruit! Look, it's like many other fruits. It has to be ripe, or it's often too tart. I find when they're over-ripe, the insides can be mushy and rotten. I can usually spot one that's ready to eat, because I've bought so many. I'll try to recall everything that I use to determine whether it's a good specimen. Also, I'll tell you a good way to clean them.

                                  Selection:
                                  First, it should seem heavy for it's size. It should feel firm, but very slightly spongy. This is kind of tricky, and you don't want to pop the seeds inside, so squeeze carefully, or you could ruin the fruit for the next person. When you squeeze, don't put pressure on the "bulging" parts of the fruits. The thicker part of the pith is usually in the valley of these bulges, not in the peaks. That's where you want to put slight pressure. With practice, you should be able to get a feel for what the pith is supposed to feel like. Size tends to play a factor as well. In my opinion, The larger they are, the better. The small have way too high a seed to pulp/juice ratio. Also, when they're small, they have a tendency to be tart more often, as well as rotten. I never buy ones that are small (size a large lemon). About grapefruit size (maybe a bit smaller is what you find most of the time in the states) is a good size. Color (and discoloration) are something else to consider. If it's a dark crimson red, it is ripe (most likely overly so), and if it has a good amount of black discoloration, it it is probably bad. The best way I can describe the perfect color is a sort of a rich pinkish peach color. Too light and it might be under ripe.

                                  What's funny is, sometimes, when they're under-ripe, they are extremely tart, and sometimes, they are near flavorless (usually the first condition exists in smaller fruit, the second in the larger).

                                  Preparation:
                                  Once again, once you clean enough of these, you get a sense of the fruit. I can usually clean one in 5 mins, and I often don't ruin a single seed, even while cutting. You'll notice that I don't use the water method. I don't like it, because although the pith floats, the seeds sometimes do as well, and I think it can be harder to separate the membranes from the seeds when the fruit is wet.

                                  It is important to have the right tools. The most important of which is simply a very good sharp paring knife. The blade needn't be longer than 4". The only other things you need are two bowls. One will be for trash, and the other will be for seeds (technically , they're considered arils). A wet paper towel is good too, so that you can wipe your hands right away, in case some juice is liberated.

                                  First, I cut off both the crown and the stem ends. The stem end only needs cut far enough down to just barely remove the stem nub. Then, the crown end needs removed. Again, only cut down far enough to remove the inner part of the crown, where the inner void meets the pith. the easiest way to do this is to cut off the crown that you see where it meets the main part of the fruit (on the outside) then look into the void inside. Cut straight across again so that the void is no longer there. then, score from the crown end to the stem end, all the way around. do this again 90 degrees from the first line around the fruit, so that you have scored 4 equal quarters. Score very lightly around the edges,and try to start in a valley (more pith-explained above). You can score more deeply into the fruit right where the edges of your top and bottom cuts are (once again, pith is thicker). Then, go over the score again lightly ( I use the tip of the knife, holding it somewhat like a pencil. start to separate with your fingers, starting at the deeper cut areas (closer to top and bottom-not middle). Work gently and use leverage. Hold it over the "seed" bowl. while separating. I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone put too much pressure, and cause the fruit to burst open, flinging little projectiles (which can badly stain anything porous) all over the room. If it doesn't come apart with light pressure, more scoring is needed. Make sure you're scoring pith. If you hit seed, you aren't helping yourself. The pith is what holds the fruit together structurally (when disassembling in this manner). Once you have separated it, make sure it's in at least 4 pieces, and roll the seeds off at an angle with your thumbs. There should be an open space next to a seed you are trying to remove. When you spot one, that's the direction you want to push the seed. It should come off cleanly, without a nub of white pith where it used to connect. If it does, pop the pith piece off, and adjust your pushing angle so that the seed pops off cleanly the next time. The pith is bitter. You want none of it. The membranes can be peeled away pretty easily, and it's important to keep breaking the fruit into smaller, more manageable sections. Pull it apart using leverage, not pulling in opposite directions (once again, projectiles). The fruit separates naturally into these sections, which usually follow a line from end to end (stem to crown). Obviously, as you work, any pith, membrane, or bad (popped, discolored, or rotten) seeds go in the trash bowl, and the good seeds go in their own bowl. When done, be sure to wash your hands and rinse off the good seeds. The pith can leave a bitter residue on the waxy outer layer of the arils.

                                  I've been told that I am to finicky about how I clean a pomegranate, but I am faster than anyone else I have seen, and end up with a much better (and tastier) finished product. Many people don't worry about the details, but I find that if even a few pieces of pith or rotten seeds are overlooked, it can make the fruit taste terrible.

                                  I almost always eat the fruit out of hand, but sometimes it finds its way into salads, or I make a simplified version of koliva (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koliva) with cooked whole oats, barley or wheat (best), sugar or honey, crushed walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, and pomegranate seeds. I'll add a bit of fresh parsley too, if I have any. I consider this Greek muesli (well, this was around long before its Northern European counterpart). It's good for breakfast, but traditionally, it's eaten after memorial services. In fact, I don't know any Greeks that eat it at any other time. It's sort of considered religious, so it would be out of place at a traditional Greek breakfast table. I love it though. Call me a heathen.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: madgreek

                                    I must show my husband your post!! He always laughs at me when he sees me opening my pomegranate. I do it EXACTLY like you do although I use my long fingernails more than the knife. I am really fast now also. I find most of the fun of eating one of these is the challenge of taking it completely apart with bursting one of those precious jewels. Please don't ask me how I eat a lobster or a Oh Henry bar!!!

                                    1. re: marbiegreen

                                      LOL-I knew I wasn't alone here.

                                      Funny story. Growing up, I would be the one charged with the task of cleaning them. I would get so pissed at my brother if he took some before I was done. We would literally fight over it! Now, It's my house, and the kids know not to even think about touching any fruit until dad is done. Ok, maybe I let it go a bit...

                                      1. re: madgreek

                                        That is funny! I won't even let myself taste one until it is all peeled.

                                  2. POM pomegranite juice is delicious and sweet (probably has added sugar)- so why bother to do all that work.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: emilief

                                      ...because the juice isn't the only form of the fruit worth considering. It's kind of like saying there's no reason to eat an orange when orange juice is so good.

                                      1. re: madgreek

                                        Well, most people use the pomegrate for juice: oranges, on the other hand, do not require an agonizing amount of time and effort and are easy to eat. Just saying. . . .

                                        1. re: emilief

                                          "Well, most people use the pomegrate for juice"

                                          Au contraire, people buy whole pomegranates so they can have pomegranate seeds. Buy juice if you want juice, but give me pomegranate seeds.

                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            The people of Central Asia - where pomegranate was domisticated - agree with you.

                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                              I love pomegranates, but detest the juice, esp. that POM stuff.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                Agreed. There's no distinguishing flavor.

                                    2. There's a pomegranate tree next door to us; the former owner of the house, who knew nothing about them and cared less, was perfectly happy to let us pick as many as we wanted. Now it's rental property, and we're getting ready to ask the guys living there if they'd mind... What's really amusing is that an apartment down the street is occupied mostly by elderly Armenians, and along around this time of year, in the very early mornings, we'd see two or three old ladies at a time let themselves in through the gate and fill up grocery sacks from the abundance on the tree.

                                      We picked maybe three dozen last year, and Mrs. O, wearing a ratty old T-shirt, set herself up on our plastic folding table in the back yard, with layers of newspaper, a big knife, big enamelware bowl and our "china cap" jelly strainer, and produced maybe a gallon of juice. Froze most of it, and still have some. Best thing we've done so far is sweeten it and then cook it down to a thick syrup, absolutely wonderful on ice cream or puddings. Oh, and of course our white plastic table is permanently stained...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                        interesting, I always thought it was an ethnic/Armenian thing, as that's how I grew up eating them. I love the picture of them filling up their grocery sacks, I could picture myself among the crew:)

                                      2. A pomegranate was the first thing I ever planted, in about 1957. It grew into a very productive tree and lasted until a freeway was built over my childhood home in the late 80s or early 90s.

                                        1. I don't think of pomegranates as being a lot of work, but I would consider them to be a very leisurely food. They're a good thing to eat when you want to linger and take the time to enjoy yourself, especially if you want to have a romantic evening. Sipping wine and nibbling on pomegranate seeds, candlelight...etc.

                                          1. We have pomegranates every year for the Jewish New Year.

                                            We simply cut it quarters or eighths and bend back flaps of skin to get the seeds out. Let seeds fall into a bowl and voila.

                                            1. Both my wife and I love them, though she is a California Girl and I'm from Michigan. Her standards are much higher than mine. By mid November we'll both have nicely stained fingers.

                                              Great with chili rellenos and last year I made a stew with lamb meatballs and pom. juice that was wonderful.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: chilihead

                                                chilihead, could you post that lamb meatball stew recipe on Home Cooking with a pointer here when you've done it? That sounds wonderful!

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  Ahh, there's the rub. I'm one of those people who reads cookbooks for fun (like many of those here I suspect) and I have a tendency to translate what I've read, and eaten, into something that either fits what I have in the fridge or what I crave.
                                                  This stew happened at the confluence of finding ground lamb on sale at the market and having a mason jar of boiled pom juice in the fridge. I had read about a "middle eastern" style burger that included chopped apricots and blanched walnuts. and I thought that while I didn't want a burger made so sweet that I might want a meatball sized bite of the same. I also recall browning cubes of eggplant and using a chicken stock base, with a dash of red wine and the usual suspects...garlic and onion.
                                                  I live in Vermont, stews and soups are a winter mainstay and their inspirations vary from turkish to colombian to belgian to elsewhere.
                                                  The next time I get my hands on some lamb or kid (goat) I'll try to reproduce this one and let you know more details.

                                                  1. re: chilihead

                                                    It sounds very good - well, except for the eggplant. ;-) How can you go wrong with lamb, garlic, and onion? LOL And I often do the same - open the fridge and cabinets and see what I have and make a dinner out what's there - or what might sound good together.

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Also think Moroccan spices: cinnamon, chili (or at least paprika) and cumin.
                                                      Eggplant is one of those things that I have been trying to learn how to cook so that I actually like it (winter squash is another) and a few years ago I had a roasted eggplant, yogurt and mint dish that changed my whole opinion about that branch of the nightshade family.

                                                      1. re: chilihead

                                                        So you made something like Lamb Kofta (Kofte?)

                                                        http://www.indiacurry.com/lamb/l006la...

                                                        (I'm so craving lamb meatballs now! LOL)

                                                        1. re: chilihead

                                                          Here's an eggplant site with over 3000 recipes ... the ones I've tried to date have been excellent. Here's just one where eggplant and pomegranate are combined. Haven't tried it yet, but is is on my to do list

                                                          Eggplant with Pomegranate Sauce
                                                          http://www.aubergines.org/recipes.php...

                                                2. One of the top 10 mexican dishes - I think Eat Nopal and cristina will back me up on this one- is chiles en nogada, which absolutely requires pomegranate seeds. The color is beautiful; the texture is an acquired crunch.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    Consider yourself backed up... Mexico's official national dish no less... it is an intriguing blend of early 19th century gastronomy pairing smokey, creamy, tart, spicy, soft, crunchy, moist, firm, savory, sweet... you name it... a venerable orgy for the senses.

                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                      My Gosh that sounds absolutely amazing!

                                                  2. I grew up eating pomegranates. My grandmother would share them with us at her house......across a small field from us. My dad planted a pomegranate bush in our yard. For years, it never produced any fruit. One year, he told the tree that he was going to cut it down if it didn't produce fruit. That summer, one little pomegranate started growing. One day while cutting grass, my dad bumped the bush and the pomegranate fell off! LOL The bush is still growing to this day and as far as I know produces fruit! I haven't been there in the fall to know for certain but do know it's still in the same place.

                                                    We always loved eating pomegranate. I don't recall ever having it anyway except picking the seeds out one by one and eating them. My chilren (ages 14 1/2 and 9) enjoy eating it as well.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: alliedawn_98

                                                      I love the crunch or pop. Like eating fish eggs?
                                                      I just did a Mario Batali recipe for pomegranate stuffed game hens and it was fantastic!
                                                      Like madgreek said, I picked a large one that was not bright red. It was fairly firm. Delicious. My dog liked the arils, too!

                                                      1. re: alliedawn_98

                                                        MY favorite memory is of giving an old, poor woman a ride in Spain. We were in an arid, desolate, mountainous part of Spain. We rode along in silence for quite a while and then from the back seat she handed us a pomegranate from her sack as a gesture of appreciation.

                                                      2. Mess and all I love them! So does my Myers parrot - he's messier than I am ;)
                                                        Excellent to top any salad or even simply prepared cooked vegetables

                                                        1. how many people eat the hard seed in the middle of the juicy bit? veggo? eat nopal? who else? you all have some good, strong teeth, i'd say.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            I knew it had a seed. Guess that's what the "pop" was. Didn't bother me a bit.

                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              Course you eat the seed. In good, ripe, sweet ones, the seed is not that hard.

                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                I love collecting a bunch of the arils in a bowl, and shoving huge handfuls into my mouth at once. Crunch crunch, seeds and all. The seeds add an important textural element that I love. Plus I gotta think they must be good for some fibre... But even if they had no health benefits whatsoever, I would still eat them. When I eat them, I feel like I am eating precious rubies.

                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                  Pal,

                                                                  Think of them as the healthy alternative to Corn nuts! Crunch, crunch!

                                                                  1. Sounds like many readers either very much love, or hate, pomegranates. Sad. Sad, indeed, 'cause most of the "fresh" supermarket product is likely a long-stored old commercial variety named "Wonderful". A poor variety, with big seeds, typically picked "young" for transport. The result, unfortunately,... is a very tart, rubbery seedy fruit, not great, unless you were of age in the Tie-Dye/Macrame era. A fresh pomegranate, from one of the newer cultivars is excellent. Some of the newer Poms are nearly seedless...very juicy, more complex in flavor, and easy to separate from the less-dominant "pithy part". 'Ambrosia'..very small seeded, is close to heaven. Other good vars are Eversweet, Red Silk, Kashmir Blend...etc...etc(many different cultivars out thar). A multitude of newer Poms are being grown, but most never reach the mundane shelves of our markets. Pomegranate molasses (easier to purchase from a number of "ethnic stores"), is also excellent to cook with. An interesting clash of Rich, decadent,...offset by astringency. Sweet & tart. Great, for many lamb/beef stews.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: PotShard

                                                                      Weird. I just had my first pomegranate that was labeled 'Wonderful' ... and it was. The arils plumper than most, the taste less tart. Maybe the stores you are buying them from are selling old pomegranates. The market I bought these from is careful with their fruit and produce.

                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                        We only eat the Poms that I grow. This makes store-bought ones disappointing. Our stores do sell pretty poor produce in general, and area residents often grow their own pomegranates here (the commonly-planted variety is still Wonderful though). Happy, that you live in a location with great produce managers! Enjoy.

                                                                        1. re: PotShard

                                                                          Berkeley Bowl and Monterey Market should be considered unfair competition. MM this AM huge Wonderfuls $1.49, organics small but still tasty 4 for a $1.

                                                                    2. I ate some pomegranates in India a couple of years ago and they were very sweet and the hard little seeds inside the delicious red flesh were very tiny or absent. My mom said that this was a new 'seedless' variety. But unfortunately when I buy them at the local grocery stores here I find that the hard seeds are more prominent than the red fleshy bits. Any idea why we don't get the good stuff here?