A weekly series on what to do with your farmers' market impulse buys and CSA box surprises.
Pomegranates have been celebrated throughout history, especially in the Middle East, and they hold significance for many world religions and cultures. NPR even calls them "the jewels in the fruit crown." They are also revered for their high content of antioxidant vitamins.
The inside of a the fruit are filled with garnet colored arils - crunchy seeds encased in a coating of juicy flesh. The arils, a perfect balance of sweet and tart flavors, are completely edible. Pomegranates can be found in Bay Area farmers' markets and produce stores from late summer until the beginning of winter.
How do I buy them? They should be heavy with tight, smooth skin. Smaller blemishes are are okay, but avoid large cracks. Be careful in handling and transporting them as the arils are delicate and can be damaged when dropped.
How do I eat them? Using the tip of a knife to start, use your fingers to crack open the outer skin, exposing the arils. Over a bowl, gently remove them from the white membrane using a fork or spoon. The brightly colored juice may stain fabric, clothing, and wood cutting boards, so be careful.
Pomegranate arils can be used in a sauce, baked in a dessert, or eaten by the spoonful as a snack. They make a beautiful garnish too - try sprinkling them onto a spinach salad with goat cheese.