What They Are: Celebrated in mythology, literature and art, the pomegranate has a noble history that can be traced back as far as 3,000 B.C. Along with the citrus and the peach, it's one of the three blessed fruits in Buddhism. Some scholars have suggested that it was a pomegranate, not an apple, that led to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. And in Greek mythology, Persephone was sentenced to six months a year in the underworld for eating just six pomegranate seeds. King Tut was buried with pomegranates in hope of a second life. Pomegrantes pop up in the old Testament, in paintings of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus, and in Homer's Odyssey, and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
The pomegranate tree is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region of Asia, Africa and Europe. There are well over 100 varieties of pomegranates, but the most widely distributed is the Wonderful variety.
Pomegranates are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, studies show that they have been proven to reduce heart disease and aid other health issues. Plus delicious! The sweet tart flavor is a key component in many Middle Eastern dishes. There are over 100 varietials of pomegranates, but the most widely available is the Wonderful variety.
What To Do With Them:
Look for fruits that are firm and taut on the outside and feel heavy for their size. Pomegranates are always picked ripe, so don’t worry about the color, which can range from bright pink to darkly red. (The color indicates variety, not ripeness.)
Unopened fruits can keep well at room temperature for about a week, and up to three months in the fridge. Once the fruit is opened, save the seeds in the fridge in a tightly sealed container or you can freeze them for a few months.
Opening them: Cut the fruit in half, horizontally. Hold each half over a bowl and squeeze until the seeds fall into the bowl. Alternately whack the back the fruit over the bowl to release the arils. Some of the pith will remain attached to the seeds, but if you fill the bowl with water, the seeds will sink to the bottom and the pith will float to the top.
Once the arils are free, sprinkle them over hummus, guacamole, lamb, chicken, steak, desserts, squash, or salads, toss them with grains, make pomegranate syrup, juice, or grenadine. To juice them, use a citrus squeezer, or blitz the arils in a food mill or a blender and then strain the pulp through cheesecloth.
What Some Chef’s Are Doing With Them Right Now: At Zaytina, José Andrés' D.C. Eastern Mediterranean inspired spot,the jeweled arils appear in a number of dishes, including haloumi with dates, pistachios, orange & pomegranates and with Mercimek Köftesi — seared red lentil patties, preserved lemon
yogurt, pomegranate, lettuce leaves. In Miami Mercadito Midtown serves up chile en nogada—stuffed poblano pepper with walnut sauce sprinkled with pomegranates. Chattanooga’s Easy Bistro & Bar has a superseasonal honeybell orange salad with a pomegranate syrup and pomegranate seeds. At bellyQ in Chicago tops vanilla soft-serve with a pomegranate glaze and lemon pepper crumble. Dianne's in Kingston, Ontario has a Pan Seared Salmon with sauteed endive, brussels, quinoa, cilantro pesto, pomegranate coulis. PS.Cafe at Palais Renaissance S.C. recently featured an All Day Starter of foie gras with-homemade butter brioche,grilled asparagus,feta,tomato & rocket salad w fresh pomegranate & balsamic quince glaze. And at Avoca Egg Café Dublin they have a Superfood salad, chunky butternut squash, broccoli, goji & blueberries, pomegranate, feta, quinoa & smoked almonds with a poppy & sesame seed dressing