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Oct 18, 2008 03:06 PM

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:

    Pomegranate 101

    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.

            25 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

                          "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.

                          1. re: Lizard

                            You want the heavier ones, the heavier the riper, and the skin should a a pinkish-red color. The darker red that means it's over ripe.

                    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:

                          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

                                      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 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.

                                    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).

                                    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 ( 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.