Monday, December 5, 2011

Fresh pomegranates in season

Let's start this post with a little two-question poll:

1. Have you ever bought, opened, and eaten a fresh pomegranate?
a. Yes
b. No
c. Maybe, but I'm so consumed with holiday stress that I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning.

2. If you have at least attempted to open and eat a fresh pomegranate, did you think it was (multiple answers are allowed):
a. Interesting, fun, intriguing
b. Tasty
c. More work than it was worth
d. A mess that left me and/or my kitchen covered in red juice
e. Too intimidating; it went bad before I got to it

Until last year, I would have answered B to number one and E to number two. Then, after watching an inspiring episode (as I find so many to be!) of Alton Brown's Good Eats, I braved the task of opening this mysterious red fruit and was hooked.

Many people just associate pomegranates with the curvy bottles of juice on the grocery shelf but have never had fresh arils (unless perhaps they came atop a fancy dish at a fancy restaurant). I was talking to a desk-neighbor at work one day last week, and she offhandedly mentioned that she doesn't like fresh pomegranates and finds them to be more work than they're worth.

Here's my trick: I buy multiples at a time (usually about three), spend a few minutes opening all of them up at once, then store the separated arils in the fridge for easy access. Stored in an airtight container with a damp paper towel on top, the arils will keep for several weeks.

You can juice them and make your own fresh pomegranate juice (I haven't taken it that far), cook with them (haven't honestly done that yet, either), or just enjoy them in their delicious fresh state. My favorite ways to use them involve sprinkling handfuls on:
- Salads
- Coleslaw
- Greek yogurt
- Ice cream

If you've never tried a fresh pomegranate before, do it! They're in season now and can be easily found at your neighborhood grocery store.

If you have tried them, what did you think? What are your favorite ways to use or eat them?