ingredient secrets: pomegranate

You’d think pomegranate had just been discovered from all the hype it’s received in the media. The main reason for this is because it’s been classified as a superfruit. The superfruit title is part marketing hook and part nutritional value. Fruits that can deliver nutrients your body needs, particularly rarer combos of these nutrients in their most complete form, are said to be superfruits. The more exotic (or expensive) a fruit is, the more likely it was be called a superfruit. Strawberries, for example, could be classified this way because of their nutrient value, but they’re far more common and are sold in larger quantities than, say acacia, pomegranate or even blueberries. In pomegranates, B5, potassium and vitamin C are all present in substantial quantities.
Pomegranate comes from the Middle East. It’s part of traditional cooking in Syria, Turkey, India and Iraq. We have records of the fruit stretching back as far as 1,000 B.C. It even has religious significance for the Jewish faith. The crown of the King was said to be taken from the end of a pomegranate. It also figures into Greek mythology. Persephone couldn’t resist the charms of pomegranate seeds while she was visiting the Underworld.
To cut a pomegranate, you actually break it open, using the knife to score the skin. The glistening, jewel-like seed casings, called arils, are the good part. You can separate them from the pulp by putting everything in water. The arils sink; the pulp floats.
I like to use pomegranate juice as a base for a glaze or a salad dressing. In a pan you can bring the juice to a boil, then allow it to simmer for a few minutes as it thicken up. Add a little soy sauce and/or vinegar plus a thickening agent (a little flour) and you can paint it on cooked shrimp as a glaze. As to salad dressings, just mix it with vinegar and olive oil for a sweet-but-tart dressing.
During Thanksgiving I know folks who use the seeds to replace the traditional cranberry side or they mix it in to give the cranberry a rounder flavor. Making muffins or blueberry poundcake? Replace the blueberries with pomegranate.
It’s also a great counter-point in flavor to strong meats such as lamb and it can give a boost to ham dishes. Those with an adventurous spirit should search out the Middle Eastern recipes. There’s even a soup that features the seeds!


april, 2022