I love this time of year, the season of pomegranates and clementines! Yes, I’m probably inflicting one helluva carbon footprint on dear old Mother Nature just so I can get my hands on some fruit, but given that it’s just once a year, I figure I can make up for it in summer when I buy everything local.
Ah, pomegranates. Nothing says Christmas to me like those tiny, sparkling jewels bursting with pinky-red, tart juice and crunchy centres. I hadn’t tried pomegranates before last year; the very thought of scooping out a spoonful of pulp and seeds turned my stomach. (I am the original Texture Girl – lychees look like eyeballs, white rice looks like maggots, fresh figs look like that thing from Star Wars, the one in the sand with all the teeth. You get the picture.)
But what rapture I experienced with that first tentative bite! It helps that the careful, delicate and precise process of unwrapping and seeding a pomegranate is an obsessive-compulsive’s dream. All those little tiny arils to remove, one at a time, from an intricate honeycomb pattern of wax and bright red flesh. I opened one over the weekend that was the size of a small cantaloupe, which took me at least a half hour to get through. Worth it, though: it yielded about two and half cups of arils. YUM.
Several of my colleagues and fellow foodies lament the mess that ensues when one attempts to get inside this fruit. I’m all, “What mess?” and they look at me balefully, recounting horror stories of back splashes (and counter tops, cutting boards, walls, ceilings, white silk blouses and small children) permanently stained by the juice.
Allow me to present you with the REAL way to prepare a pomegranate:
* Pick large, heavy fruits with firm, dark red skin. Avoid ones with soft spots or bruises.
* Cut off the stem end just below where the stem meets the fruit.
* Without cutting too deep, score the skin into quarters.
* Dunk the whole thing in a large bowl of water.
* While holding it underwater, gently pull each of the quarters apart.
* The arils will be attached to a waxy, white membrane. Gently push at the arils until they fall off. They will sink to the bottom; the wax will float to the top.
* Skim off all the wax bits, and drain the arils in a colander.
* Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Pomegranates go great on everything, from cereal and yogourt to shrimp and chicken. You can even get your pom on cocktail style: my favourites are Mike’s Hard Pomegranate; Pama Pomegranate Liquor; and Lush Pomegranate+Passionfruit, a new Food Show find made right here in Ottawa.