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Enjoying the Jewel of Winter

By Mark Mulcahy
Image of Organic Pomegranates
Isn’t autumn wonderful? Many folks would agree with this statement because of the weather, colors, and the onset of the holidays. But there should be another reason added to the list. It’s Melissa’s organic pomegranate time! Yes the pomegranate, the “jewel of winter”, that starts showing up in stores in September, but is really best eaten when November rolls around. It’s funny – even though it holds the distinction of being one of the oldest fruits known and is rich in history and folklore, it is just now starting to really gain the popularity it deserves. This could be due to the question most people have when they see this beautiful globe that is the size of an orange and can range from yellow-orange to deep reddish-purple – “How the heck do you eat it?”

For some it is as easy as cutting it into quarters, and biting into the seed pack, which is fine, but can be a little messy and unpleasant as the white inner membranes are high in tannic acid, which can be a bit bitter.

Another, easier way to remove the delicious seeds is to:
  • Cut off the flowery end of the pomegranate, and then score it into sections.
  • Place the pomegranate in a bowl of water and soak for 5 minutes.
  • Break the fruit sections open in the bowl of water, allowing the seed kernels to separate from the rind and sink to the bottom.
  • Discard the rind and drain the kernels.
Now sit down and enjoy your reward. As you gaze over the bowl of red jewels you may be wondering how many seeds there are in a pomegranate.

Want to guess? Well here’s the fun little secret; every pomegranate is composed of exactly 840 seeds. It might be fun to do a “guess the seeds” game with your friends and see who comes closest during your next Holiday gathering.

The next question you may have is, “Should I eat the seeds whole?”

Absolutely! The seeds inside the kernels not only can be eaten, I say they should be, as they have a wonderful, nutty flavor similar to grape seeds. You may want to wear an apron or an old shirt as the juice stains!

So why go to all this trouble when you could just grab an apple? First of all, the juice has a wonderful flavor! Secondly it is high in antioxidants, which have been shown to prevent or reduce tissue damage in cells and can play a role in promoting cardiovascular health, slow the growth of cancerous tumors and lessen the
risk and severity of degenerative diseases. They are also high in vitamin C which besides all of its well-known attributes, has also been found to support good immune function.

Now that you know how to remove the seeds, another question may be, “Is there any easy way to get the juice out of a pomegranate?” Again the answer is yes!

Here’s what I do when I want to add some pomegranate juice to my green tea in the afternoon. Press the room temperature fruit against a countertop, then roll it back and forth several times to break open the kernels and loosen the membrane. This will release the juice. Once softened, puncture or cut the pomegranate to squeeze the juice out. If that is still too much work, blend the seeds in a blender and drain the juice through cheesecloth.

Now that you are going to try pomegranates, here is some information that will come in handy.
  • When choosing your Melissa’s Organic Pomegranate, remember that they should be plump and round, and always heavy for their size, if you are wondering if there really is that much difference in weight, then pick a few up and you’ll notice that the ones with a rich color that are blemish free will be heavier and thus have more juice than those that are lighter in color and bruised.
  • Larger fruits will have more juice.
  • Whole pomegranates can be stored in a cool, dry area for a month and refrigerated for up to two months.
  • The seed pips, once separated, can be frozen in an airtight bag for up to one year.
  • If you juice the kernels, the fresh juice should be refrigerated and used within two to three days.
While there are over 760 varieties of pomegranate, the variety most folks have been familiar with in stores has been the ‘Wonderful’. But that may be changing as in recent years the 'Wonderful' has been losing ground to the more colorful 'Grenada' variety. Whatever Melissa’s organic pomegranate variety you choose, it will make your autumn season that much better.
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