Pomegranates

Pomegranates

When broken open, the leathery skin of a pomegranate reveals a shimmering sea of tiny seeds encased in a translucent ruby-red pulp. The sweet-sour seeds can be used as a garnish for salads and desserts, and they make a delicious snack on their own. When choosing pomegranates, look for large, heavy fruits with thin skins that feel as if they are about to burst open from all the seeds packed inside.

To store whole pomegranates, keep them in the refrigerator for as long as 3 months. The seeds can also be scraped out of the fruit, packed in an airtight container, and frozen for 3 months. To extract whole pomegranate seeds, cut a thin slice from the blossom end of the fruit, taking care not to pierce any of the seeds. Lightly score the skin of the fruit from stem to blossom end in four to six places, without cutting through to the seeds. Gently break the fruit apart along the scored lines, then bend back the rind of each piece to reveal the seeds. Gently free the seeds from the pithy membranes. Pomegranate juice stains easily, so protect your clothing as you work.

Cut the fruit in half around its equator in order to extract the juice. Cover the cut sides with 2 layers of dampened cheesecloth and tie them to hold in place. Squeeze the juice from each half through the cheesecloth into a bowl (as you would squeeze an orange). Or you can roll the pomegranate against a countertop to crush the seeds beneath the skin and release their juice (be careful not to burst the skin). With a sharp knife, cut around the stem, and remove the stem and the plug of flesh beneath it to create a hole. Invert the pomegranate over a bowl and gently squeeze the fruit, draining the juice through the hole. You can also remove the seeds and puree them in a blender. Then, strain the juice before using.

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