The pomegranate, has recently
been acclaimed for its health benefits, in particular, for its
disease fighting antioxidant potential. Preliminary studies suggest
that pomegranate juice may contain almost three times the total
antioxidant ability compared with the same quantity of green tea
or red wine. It also provides a substantial amount of potassium,
is high in fibre, and contains vitamin C and niacin.
Used in folk medicine (to treat inflammation,
sore throats, and rheumatism) for centuries in the Middle East,
India, and Iran, the pomegranate is about the size of an orange
or an apple. It has a tough, dark red or brownish rind. The seeds
and the juicy translucent scarlet red pulp surrounding the seeds
of the pomegranate are the edible parts of the fruit, although
only the pulp has any flavour. Encased within a bitter tasting,
white, spongy, inedible membrane, the seeds can be gently pried
out with your hands. Perhaps one of the reasons the pomegranate
isn't as popular as it deserves is that it takes time and care
to get to the seeds. The flavour of these juicy seeds is delicate,
sweet, and tangy.
Grenadine, a light syrup added to alcoholic
drinks or soft drinks, used to be made from pomegranate juice,
though now it is made with food colouring. There are concentrated
forms of pomegranate juice available, however. Called variously
pomegranate molasses, concentrated pomegranate juice, or pomegranate
essence, they are available in Middle Eastern markets, gourmet
food stores, and some health food stores.
Pick up the fruit to feel its weight (the seeds represent about
52% of the weight of the whole fruit). If it feels light for its
size, select a heavier one. The skin should appear shiny, taut
and thin, without cracks or splits.
Store whole pomegranates in a dark, cool place for up to a month,
and in the refrigerator for up to two months.
Seeds can be refrigerated for up to three days.
To freeze the seeds, place them in an airtight container and they
will keep in the freezer for about six months. When the seeds
thaw, they will no longer be edible as fresh seeds, but they will
be fine for extracting the juice. In fact, the freezing process
will break down the cell walls of the pulp surrounding the seeds
and as they thaw, they will naturally give up their juice. If
you've made pomegranate juice, it can be frozen for about six
months in an airtight container.
Pomegranate juice is used to make jelly, juice, sauces, vinaigrettes,
and marinades. The whole seeds can be sprinkled on salads, desserts,
and used as a garnish for meat, poultry, or fish.
To remove the seeds, slice the crown end off
and gently score the rind vertically in several places from top
to bottom. Place the pomegranate in a bowl of water. Carefully
break the sections apart, prying the seeds from their anchors
on the pith with your fingers. Remove the thin membranes that
separate the clusters of seeds. The seeds will sink and the rind
and membranes will float. Gather up the seeds in a colander.
To make juice, place the pomegranate seeds
in a food processor or blender and process until a juice is formed.
Strain the seeds out of the juice through a fine-mesh sieve or
a strainer lined with cheesecloth.