Make, Jane, make!: Clean and Dry Pomegranate Seeds


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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Clean and Dry Pomegranate Seeds

Whew... had to take a short break from the craziness of Hallowe'en posting and recuperate a bit before the holidays hit. I feel a bit remiss ignoring my blog for so long though, so I'm going to ease back into the swing of things with a short post about how I usually deseed a pomegranate.

My kids loooove eating pomegranate arils which surprises me because I always figured that the little seeds inside would be a big obstacle to their enjoyment. In fact, one of my sons will occasionally spit out grape peels because "they too hard to bite!" But, go figure, they love pomegranates.

There are many ways to get those tasty seeds out of a pomegranate. If I'm in a hurry (and I'm juicing the seeds anyway) then I will bang my pomegranates with a wooden spoon for super fast removal, but tis always results in quite a few seeds completely smushed and a lot of sticky juice. Some people advocate peeling them inside a bowl of water, but I find that the arils get all wet and this detracts from their taste and attractiveness and they need to be laid out to dry before serving.

I've found that the easiest way to peel and deseed a pomegranate is simply... to peel and deseed the pomegranate. Of course that's easier said than done if you have no idea what you're dealing with inside that gleaming, ruby red skin. So this post is meant as an introduction to the anatomy of a pomegranate for those who are new to this wonderful fruit.

I always try to pick pomegranates that are firm and red (more burgundy than pink) and shiny. Not lacquered-skin shiny, but vibrant and well-hydrated skin shiny.

Using a sharp knife, pierce the skin carefully near the stem area. Peel back and remove as much of the upper dome of the pomegranate skin as possible.

Peeling a nice ripe pomegranate with firm arils is actually really easy and if you're lucky you'll be able to peel off as much as I managed to in the photograph above. If you can't, not to worry - you just need to peel enough to reveal where the segments are. (I know at this point the pomegranate looks a lot like you could segment it like a grapefruit, but don't be fooled. Check out the picture below and the tiny pyramid of arils that grow on the bottom of the fruit.)

Again being careful not to tear the membranes too much, pull off a couple of segments. Don't be tempted to pop any seeds off yet at this point. This step is crucial IMHO because the membranes of a pomegranate are a lot like the membrane on a hard-boiled egg - peeling the membrane off when it is mostly still whole is much easier than trying to pick off the tiny pieces that get stuck all over the place when you puncture and break the membrane too much. (I think messily torn pomegranates are usually the reason that most people submerge their pomegranates under water... to wash stray pith and membrane pieces off the arils.)

So you can really see how keeping the aril clusters whole and not ripping the membrane allows for each segment to pop out cleanly.

Now gently using the side of your thumb, pop the arils off one cluster into your awaiting bowl. Repeat for all the remaining segments.

You can see here that I've removed the seeds from both clusters, revealing the skin and the little "spines" that the seeds were growing around them.

Here is another picture of a pomegranate that I've peeled all the way down one side to show two "spines", the bottom pyramid, the arils growing around them and the membrane separating the segments.

And here are the arils removed - all jewel-like, perfectly dry with no juice at the bottom of the bowl and, as you can see from all my pictures, with minimal hand/nail staining.

So that is my breakdown of how I deseed a pomegranate, take it as you may.

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