In praise of the poetic pomegranate

 | October 30, 2013

An_opened_pomegranateThe pomegranate is something of a mystery fruit.

It looks not so tasty sitting on the shelf in the produce department; the outside often looking dirty and slightly beat up. So, picking a good pomegranate to buy can be difficult. If produce picking isn’t in your skill set, the best advice I have to offer is to survey the pile of fruit and attempt to pick the most evenly colored and brightest looking piece from the pile. If the pomegranate you pick feels heavy for its size then chances are good that you have in your hand a ripe and juicy fruit.

Pomegranates grow on trees and are in season at the market in our area from September to December. Most stock is brought in from California where the fruit’s recent popularity has caused a surge in growers, though the pomegranate is believed to have originated in the Middle East near, or in, modern day Iran.

Research the health benefits and you’ll find quite an impressive list of the great things this fruit can do. I picked it as a garnish for a chocolate dessert first because of its deep ruby red color and, of course, second for its seemingly exotic appearance. Nutrition facts aside, its beautiful appearance is enough to pique the interest of most.

Many people will claim to know the best way to liberate the seeds from the pith, but I’ll share with you my tried and true way.

Cut the fruit in half using a sharp knife. Submerge the halves in a salad bowl full of cool water. If your fruit is of good quality and ripeness, it should be easy to break the fruit halves in to quarters in the water. Working under water keeps the fruit from “bleeding” all over your counter, plus it offers the fruit protection from the picking and ripping needed to obtain the hundreds of juicy seeds locked inside. The inedible pith will float to the top and the edible seeds will sit at the bottom of the bowl. Skim off, and throw away the pith, then pour the rest through a strainer, leaving you with a pomegranate worth of juicy, tasty seeds.

Last year I was asked to come up with a decadent dessert for a Thanksgiving dinner party. I was so nervous about my task that I couldn’t think of anything to make until the last 30 minutes. While my best friend was pleading with me that she didn’t want to look bad offering up my supposed skills for the occasion then turn up with nothing to show for it, I made the most delicious chocolate cake that my friends still talk about. Over a dozen people got to enjoy its rich, luscious flavours and I got to stick it to my best friend on my skills of promise and delivery.

What made the cake look and taste most decadent were the ruby red pomegranate seeds decorating the top.