I love pomegranates. I mean, I really, really love them. A good pomegranate is tough to find until about Thanksgiving, and I can see they’re already starting to lose their vigor and it’s only early January. They are the thing that push me to enjoy the darkest days of Autumn, right into Winter.
I was fooled this year and bought one in late September. It was so shiny and red, and I just squealed at the thought of it, but it was some fantasy, all right. The goods lacked color and flavor, and though I still ate it, I made a mental note to wait at least until Halloween next year, no matter how much I am tempted.
I recall some childhood memory of some property my mom and stepdad had in California where rumor serves a pomegranate bush on our property. I don’t know what happened to that property, or if I even invented the entire scenario, but I do recall my little brother and I making a good mess with our burgundy globes. Why such a mess? Because we didn’t know how to pluck ’em right.
Justin loves pomegranate juice, but he’s not big on the arils. I chew them up like an animal and swallow the seeds and everything. I simply do not care. So all pomegranate arils in the house are for me and me alone. I go through about 2 pomegranates (a bit more than a quart of arils) per week. Honestly, I think it really takes me only a couple days to eat a quart of chilled arils, but I only let myself buy them once a week because they are kind of expensive. Not nearly as expensive as the prepackaged 1/2 cup of (aged!) arils for the same price, mind you, but still: pomegranates aren’t cheap. So my limit is 2 per week.
Picking a good pomegranate at the store (or if you’re lucky enough, the Farmer’s Market) is a craft as well. Choose a heavy one that does not have any soft spots. Even old pomegranates are good; don’t be too “American” about it, just feel it. It should weigh more than a pound, usually about one and a quarter. It should feel good in your hands.
So I’ve been crackin’ pomegranates for years, but recently I found a video that talked about slicing off the top and scoring the fruit down the sides. I really had been doing it all wrong all time, and not just because some Crazy Russian Hacker told me I was. In fact, he’s doing it a little wrong, too.
I do not like the “smack the fruit with a spoon” method. I find it makes an enormous mess and has stained my clothes and I find no joy in either of these things. Instead, I use a modified version of the “bowl of water” method.
I use a bowl of tepid (read: comfortable for my hands) water, a paring knife and about 8-10 minutes to drain the fruit of all its arils. To open the fruit, I do use the scalping/scoring, but mostly I only have to score once. I crack open the fruit over the bowl of water (to catch any stray arils) and then gently massage the arils out of their pockets. I have a near zero rate of aril loss, and almost no mess at all. Any of that white inside membrane (pith?) will float to the top unless an aril is holding it down. Allow me to illustrate:
The process is pretty quick, usually between 3 and 4 minutes per fruit, which yields more than a pint of arils. MORE THAN A PINT! When you can find the fruit on sale for less than $2.50, you are SCORING IN THE ARIL DEPARTMENT, my friends. Just do a cost comparison to those nasty, half-rotted readymades in the petrochemical cups next time you’re at the store.
When you’re all done just pour off the pith / membrane and scoop the arils into a jar, place in the fridge, and eat by the fistful.