The Pomegranate - Healthy, Historical and Heavenly in Cooking
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 7, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)
I grew up in Indiana farm country. The only knowledge of the pomegranate was the description in the Old Testament, being mentioned 25 times. When we moved to Washington, DC in my early teens, it was into an all Jewish neighborhood. It was September and the fruit I had long read about became real to me. Here in this community, the fruit was revered historically as having exactly 613 arils (seeds) per "apple" and thus the 613 commandments in the torah. I've never counted nor have a clue if this is true, but I can tell you that the arils were every bit as sweet and tangy as I'd imagined from reading. I was hooked !
The seed or arils as they are called contain the juice which people now drink. There's a great trick to releasing these which requires no peeling. Just cut off the top blossom end and score the outside husk so you can break it. Have a bowl of water or sink filled with water ready. Give the thing a twist and presto - the arils will sink to the bottom and the membrane of the fruit will float to the top - only gentle coaxing from your thumbs is necessary. You've now unlocked the treasured jewels !
The arils almost glow; they are transluscent and you can see the white inner seed. That's where all the fiber is. Some people spit the seeds, I chew them up - it's just a matter of personal preference. The burst of flavor you will experience is like no other taste or sensation. Pop a handful of these on a container of yogurt along with a tablespoon or so of the juice....................you'll become addicted!
If you decide the arils intact are too much for you, then just use a reamer to get the pure juice. Did you know that the original grenadine syrup was actually made from these? Yup! Now, it's some sort of corn syrup concoction that is clearly no good for human consumption.
Before I give you a couple favorite recipes, I urge you to think about the health benefits of this gem. Full of antioxidants as in mega amounts, trusted University Hospital studies such as Johns Hopkins give clear evidence of pomegrantes as part of diets that can reduce the causes of especially prostate cancers before they begin. Pomegrantes are a delicious and very worthy fruit. Here's a few ways that we enjoy them:
Squash, Apples and Pomegrante Juice - extracted from a recipe at Pom Wonderful including the nutritional info
Juice 2 pomegrantes with a reamer. Cut and peel 2 winter squash of your choice in 2" cubes. Cut and keep peel on 4 apples of your choice - I use Granny Smith's. Put all this in a 13 x 9 buttered baking dish. Mix 1/4 cup of light brown sugar with the pomegrante juice and spread over the top of the squash and apples. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the top. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Check out the nutrional info on this.....yea, I'll make this all day long.
NUTRIENTS PER SERVING
4g total fat (2g saturated)
7g dietary fiber
1730mcg vitamin A RE
38mg vitamin C
Pomegranate Syrup or Molasses - there are a zillion recipes on the internet - here's how we do it
Take 3 cups of pure pomegrante juice. Put in a stainless steel or other non-reactive pan on medium heat. Stir in 1/3 cup of sugar along with the juice of 1 lemon. Bring to a simmer and then let reduce by at least 50%. Cool and put in container - this will last 3+ months in your frig.
Brush this on chicken, fish, lamb, pork prior to roasting/grilling, or just use a spoonful or two in a vineagrette, or drizzle on winter veggies, or, or....you'll figure it out once you taste it!
Although we will be "pushing the zone", we plan on planting pomegranate trees on our new homestead - can't keep paying the price for such a nutritious find :) Please be careful when buying the juice to drink - read the labels. Many of these juices contain apple, pear, etc and are not 100% pomegranate juice.
Photos courtesy Wikipedia (licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License).