One of the oldest known fruits, found in writings and artifacts of many cultures and religions, the pomegranate (punica granatum) is an original native of modern day Iran. This nutrient dense, antioxidant rich fruit has been revered as a symbol of health and fertility for ages. However, while it has always been an important part of the Middle Eastern diet, until recently pomegranates were nothing more than a seasonal novelty in the U.S...
Generally speaking, the fruit is not as attractive to Americans as it is to folks in the Mid-East, Europe and the Far East, primarily because of its somewhat inconvenient abundance of seeds; preparing a pomegranate for consumption takes time and a bit of skill. However, now that medical studies have begun shedding some light on the health benefits of the pomegranate, thereby revealing it for the superfood it is, the fruit is finally gaining in popularity.
How to select
- For eating or juicing, select pomegranates by weight, not by color.
- The outside of a ripe pomegranate can vary from pink to a deep ruby red.
- The heavier pomegranates are, the more juice they contain.
The potent pomegranate
The pomegranate is a nutrient dense food source rich in phytochemical compounds. Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. Pomegranate juice may help stop plaque formation in the blood vessels (an anti-atherogenic effect), and it also appears to suppress the growth of cancer cells and increase cancer cell death in lab testing, according to research from UCLA.
A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries. Pomegranates are also loaded with vitamins, potassium, folic acid and iron!
How to open a pomegranate
Step. 1 Cut
With a sharp paring knife, cut off the top about a half inch below the crown.
Step. 2 Score
Once the top has been removed, four to six sections of the pomegranate divided by the white membrane will be visible. With the knife’s point, score the skin along each section.
Step. 3 Open
Using both hands, carefully pull the pomegranate apart in a bowl of water, breaking it into smaller sections.
Step. 4 Loosen
Under water, loosen the arils and allow them to sink to the bottom of the bowl; the membrane will float to the top.
Step. 5 Scoop
Use a spoon to scoop out the pieces of white membrane that have floated to the top of the water.
Step. 6 Strain
Pour the arils and remaining liquid through a strainer.
Some great pomegranate recipes
Now that you are acquainted with the health benefits of the pomegranate and know how to extract the edible portion of the fruit, here are some delicious recipes for you to enjoy.
Chicken Enchiladas with Cream Sauce and Pomegranate
Pomegranate and Papaya Salad with Ginger Dressing
Pomegranate Jeweled Spinach Salad
Spicy Pomegranate Relish
Pomegranate-Marinated Rack Of Lamb
Pomegranate-Honey Roasted Game Hens