The pomegranate is a fruit the size of a large orange. The leathery reddish-pink skin shelters the membranous walls and bitter tissue that house compartments or sacs filled with hundreds of seeds. A translucent red pulp that has a slightly sweet and tart taste surrounds these seeds. Pomegranates are grown in California and throughout Asia and the Mediterranean countries.
Selection and Storage
Pomegranates are available in the United States from September through December. Select fruit that is heavy for its size with bright, fresh color and blemish-free skin. You can refrigerate whole pomegranates for up to 2 months or store them in a cool, dark place for up to a month. Pomegranate seeds packed in an airtight container and stored in the freezer will keep for up to 3 months.
Uses and Preparation
Pomegranates are a versatile fruit and can be used as a garnish on sweet and savory dishes or pressed to extract the juice. To use a pomegranate, cut it in half and pry out the pulp-encased seeds, removing any of the light-colored membrane that adheres. The seed pods tend to squirt when they pop, and you will invariably pop quite a few of them while handling a pomegranate. The juice will stain, so be sure to wear an apron or clothing that you don’t mind getting stained.
The juice can also stain your walls or countertops; a good way to avoid the squirting juices is to handle the fruit completely submerged in a large pot of water. The seeds will sink to the bottom, and the membrane will float. Use a strainer to scoop out the membrane, then pour the rest through a collander to collect the seed pods.