Pomegranate season begins in September! You have no doubt heard the hype about these seedy fruits, and they are, indeed, very good for you. Pomegranates are a good source of a variety of phytochemicals, including polyphenols, which seem to provide protection against heart disease. They are high in potassium, vitamin C, and manganese, and are well worth all the work involved in eating them.
Studies show pomegranates may help prevent the process that results in LDL — or bad–cholesterol contributing to clogging arteries. Pomegranates may also help maintain blood flow, keeping your blood vessels healthy.
Pomegranates have a sweet-tart flavor and are used most often in Middle Eastern cuisine, although pomegranate juice is now becoming a staple in American supermarkets. They can be messy to eat—the juice is used as a dye in many cultures, so be careful to protect your clothing when indulging in pomegranates!
DID YOU KNOW:
- Pomegranates are one of the oldest known fruits!
- Every pomegranate is composed of exactly 840 seeds.
- Ancient Romans tanned and used pomegranate rinds as a form of leather!
HOW TO CHOOSE AND STORE A POMEGRANATE:
Fruits should be plump and round, heavy for their size, with a rich, fresh color and should be free of cuts and blemishes. Larger fruits promise more juice.
Pomegranates are not a fruit that will ripen once picked, so once harvested, they will not continue to develop sugar.
Whole fruits can be stored for a month in a cool, dry area or refrigerated up to two months. The seed pips can be frozen in an airtight bag up to one year. Fresh juice should be refrigerated and used within two to three days.
HOW TO EAT A POMEGRANATE:
One medium pomegranate should yield 1/2 to 3/4 cup of whole seed pips or 1/2 cup juice. Avoid using aluminum and carbon steel knives or cooking vessels with pomegranates as they can turn the juice bitter.
To peel a pomegranate, first cut off the crown and gently scoop out some of the center core without disturbing the seeds. With a sharp knife, score just through the outer rind around the fruit in quarters. Put your thumb in the core center and gently pull apart the sections. Peel away the inner white papery skin covering the seeds and discard. Gently invert the skin inside out and the seeds will pop out to be easily removed without bruising.
To facilitate separation of the white membrane from the pips, place cut pieces in a bowl of cold water and gently separate the juicy seeds. The membrane pieces should float to the top of the water for easy separation.
You can juice your pomegranates by pulsing the seeds in a food mill, or by using a lemon reamer.
NUTRITION INFO PER POMEGRANATE:
Calories – 100
Fat – 0
Sodium – 0
Potassium – 400mg (11% RDA)
Total Carbohydrate – 26g
Dietary Fiber – 4% RDA
Sugars – 21g
Protein – 1g
%RDA Vitamins & Minerals Per Pomegranate:
Vitamin C – 15%
Iron – 2%
Vitamin E – 4%
Thiamin – 4%
Riboflavin – 2%
Niacin – 2%
Vitamin B6 – 8%
Folate – 2%
Pantothenic Acid – 10%
Copper – 6%
Manganese – 45%
POMEGRANATE PISTACHIO COUSCOUS
<><> 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup whole-grain couscous
2 tablespoons chopped mint or cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can garbanzo beans
Optional: 1 package chicken-style seitan, cut into bite-sized pieces.
<><> Directions <>
To boiling water add cinnamon, olive oil and salt. Stir in the couscous, garbanzo beans, and seitan (if using). Cover and remove from the heat. Let stand 5 - 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Mix in the herbs, pistachios, half of the pomegranate seeds, and lemon zest, and serve.
Yield: 4-6 servings; can feed more or less depending on how hungry you are.
1-1/2 cups pomegranate berries
1/2 cup currants
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 medium ripe papaya, peel and seeds removed
2 medium oranges, juiced OR 1/2 cup orange juice
6 lemon slices
12 spearmint leaves
Mix berries, currants & almond slivers together. Divide into 6 portions, putting each portion into a glass goblet. Cut the papaya into chunks and place in a blender. Blend with the orange juice at medium speed, until smooth. Pour equal amounts over the 6 portions of pomegranate mixture. Top each goblet with a date, a lemon slice and 2 spearmint leaves. Serve immediately.
Covered and stored in the refrigerator, this dessert will keep 3 to 5 days.
Yield: 4-6 servings