Pomegranates are probably one of my favorite fruits with their vibrant red color and tangy sweet flavor. However, I avoided buying them for years because I haaaaaaaatttttteeeddd cutting them. I thought there was no way to disassemble those rosy spheres and harvest their delicious seeds without ending up looking like an axe murderer. So, I either bought the seeds already removed (pricy and often with added perservatives) or I would lovingly admire them at the farmer’s market in the fall as I walked on by.
It wasn’t until last November when one of my best friends, Cheryl, was out for a visit that I learned “the trick” to cutting a pomegranate in about the cleanest way humanly possible. Cheryl is a Connecticut gal, so when she stepped off the plane here in San Deigo and removed her winter coat, one of the first things I wanted to show her was my favorite famer’s market. As we were walking the rows of local vendors, oogling all the produce and crafts, Cheryl stopped and grabbed a pomegranate. I must have groaned or let out a heavy sigh, because she turned to me and said “you do know the trick for cutting these suckers, right?” Trick? There is a trick that won’t leave me juice splattered and scrubbing red out of every inch of my kitchen with vinegar!?! No, I certainly DID NOT know this trick! Cheryl smiled, forked over some cash to the farmer, and threw two poms into her reusable grocery bag. That night, she showed me “the trick” to busting into pomegranates that her uncle had taught her and she, herself, had refined over the years. Since her visit, I have showed this trick to many friends and family members, each one a little more mind blown than the last at its ease and effectiveness. So now, my lovely readers, I share this trick with you, in hopes of it changing your relationship with the gorgeous, delicious, in season, and antioxidant rich pomegranate.
Step 1: Get a pomegranate, cutting board, and sharp knife. Simple enough, right? You can tell a pomegranate is ripe and ready to be eaten when it feels heavy (all that tasty juice) and the skin is firm and taut. Be careful what kind of cutting board you use, as wood ones will absorb the juice and will likely stay pink. A plastic cutting board won’t stain as easily, but if you want to use wood, vinegar will help get the pomegranate color out when washing. Or, do like me, and use an ancient cutting board you are looking to ruin so that you have an excuse to replace it.
Step 2: Score the perimeter of the skin. Careful not to cut too deep into the fruit (beware the dreaded juice spray!) or to slice off a finger tip, so do this step slowly.
Step 3: Admire your perfectly scored pomegranate. When you are done step 2, this is what your work should look like. Notice, no juice has been shed yet.
Step 4: Crack that bad boy open! Holding the pomegranate with both hands,, wedge your thumbs into the score that you have just made and break the fruit in half.
Step 5: Score the thickest parts of the white flesh. Holding half of the pomegranate in the palm of your hand, find the areas where the spongy membrane is the thickest and give them a good nick. Stay away from the areas where seeds are embedded close to the edge. Again, we are trying to get through this process with as little juice shed as possible.
Step 6: Break the fruit at the nicks. We are trying to get the pomegranate into the smallest, easiest to work with sized piecess as possible.
Feel free to break them into smaller pieces to make the deseeding process even easier or give it a go with the chunks of pomegranate at this size.
Step 7: Start the deseeding process. Using your thumbs, gently wiggle the seeds free from the white membrane into an awaiting bowl. This will go faster than it sounds, you just have to get a feel for how stuck in there the seeds are. As you go, break the flesh into even smaller pieces to so you can get to all those hidden seeds. I won’t lie, I sacrifice a seed or two at this point in the process. Some of them are stuck in there so awkwardly they aren’t going to come out salvageable. Know when to pick your battles with a pomegranate (something I never thought I’d ever say in my lifetime).
Step 8: Enjoy! Consume those little ruby seeds as soon as your work is complete, throw them into a smoothie, sprinkle them over oatmeal, or put them in an air tight container and store them in the fridge for up to a week.