Monday, February 20, 2012

The Pomegranate - An Ancient Fruit

The pomegranate originated in Persia, present day Iran. This delicious and ancient fruit is mentioned in the Book of Exodus, and has been used for medical and culinary purposes for thousands of years. Chefs have used the arils in salads, curry sauces, and many other appetizing dishes. Juice from the pomegranate has been used as a refreshing drink in India and Iran for centuries.
Sometimes, dried pomegranate arils can be found in specialty food markets. They may contain the seed and residual aril water, maintaining a natural sweet and tart flavor. Dried arils can be used in several culinary applications, such as trail mix, granola bars, or as a topping for salad, yogurt, or ice cream. During the months of September and February we are graced with the actual fruit. The fresh variety can be a little difficult to eat, sticky and quite messy. Following are a few hints on how to make the process easier.
Score the pomegranate with a sharp knife, and break it open exposing the arils. Separating the red arils is easier in a bowl of water, because the arils sink and the inedible pulp floats. Freezing the entire fruit also makes it easier to separate. Another very effective way of quickly harvesting the arils is to cut the pomegranate in half, score each half of the exterior rind four to six times, hold the pomegranate half over a bowl and smack the rind with a large spoon. The arils should eject from the pomegranate directly into the bowl, leaving only a dozen or more deeply embedded arils to remove.