What it is
Pomegranates are an ancient fruit thought to have originated in Persia or Afghanistan but now grown in subtropical regions throughout the world (including Australia, China, India and California's Central Valley). These handsome rosy orbs with tufted crowns, bursting with juicy jewel-like sacs, are in stores from fall to early winter, just in time for the holidays. For festive treats, sprinkle the seeds over ice-cream parfaits, pancakes or waffles, salads and couscous, or jazz up pomegranate juice (either freshly squeezed or bottled) with sparkling wine or soda.
Choosing the best:
Choose fruit that is heavy for its size with thin, bright, unbruised red or yellow skin. Seeds vary from ruby red to pale pink, so fruit markets often display a sample pomegranate to show the colour and quality of the seeds. Juicy-looking seed sacs have the fullest flavour.
Pomegranates will keep for about one week at room temperature or for up to one month in the refrigerator. Once cut, the fruit deteriorates quickly so use within four days. Frozen seeds will keep for up to three months in an airtight bag.
How to harvest seeds:
Place fruit tip up; cut in half horizontally. Holding each half cut side down over bowl, sharply tap top with large, heavy spoon to knock out seeds; discard bitter membrane. One fruit yields about 3/4 cup (175 mL) seeds.
How to juice:
Roll pomegranate on work surface applying gentle pressure but without breaking skin. Using paring knife, remove crown (like tomato core). Place fine sieve over measuring cup. Squeeze fruit to release juice into sieve. Scrape seeds from fruit into sieve; press to remove juice. One fruit yields about 1/3 cup (75 mL) juice.