Pomegranates without the fuss
Plucking the fleshy seeds from a pomegranate can leave you looking like you toured a slaughterhouse. Crimson juice spurts in every direction as you pry the kernels apart, surgically dismantling the fruit’s honeycomb structure.
A simple dish—a salad topped with persimmon slices and pomegranate seeds—can turn into a forty-five minute project. This can feel like more trouble than it’s worth.
A new method I just learned changed all of that.
I’d read about creative techniques to avoid the carnage: pluck the seeds out underwater; perform the operation in an elaborate get-up of plastic bags. But nothing seemed to make the process any less time-consuming or onerous—just less messy. Impatience usually gets the better of me and I end up eating the seeds at the counter with blood-red hands. Still, when pomegranates make their brief appearance every fall, I succumb. This new method gave me every reason to.
The process is simple. Cut the pomegranate in half horizontally, so the stem end forms a North pole and the cut runs along the equator. Then—and this is the fun part—invert one hemisphere so the cut side faces down, grab a wooden spoon, and give it some good, strong whacks. The kernels shower down, intact. No pools of juice. No mess. It’s magic.
My favorite thing to do with pomegranate seeds right now is sprinkle them on yogurt. My work with local, artisan goat-cheese makers has me more hooked on goat products than ever before. I’ve always been obsessed with goat cheese. Now I’m discovering the wonders of goat milk, goat yogurt . . .
I’ve also been doing research for a piece on Moroccan food for the Town Crier, which has me adding exotic touches of orange flower water and cardamom to little mezze-style side dishes of fruits and vegetables. And, since I finally learned how to properly suprème oranges, I’ve become somewhat suprème-happy. I’ve been slicing juicy little suprème segments out of oranges every chance I get, leaving that spherical sculpture of pocket-book folds behind.
This fruit salad that I’ve been making is the happy confluence of all my recent fixations.
It consists of orange segments and pomegranate seeds, with a lovely yogurt sauce made from goat yogurt into which I stir cardamom, orange flower water and a touch of brown sugar. I love the contrast of textures—crunchy, juicy, creamy—and flavors—warm spices, tangy tartness, and a touch of sweetness.
* * * *
Spiced orange-pomegranate salad
1 large orange
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup yogurt (goat milk or cow’s milk)
1/4 teaspoon orange flower water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Peel the orange and cut into cross-sections or suprèmes. Extract the pomegranate seeds from the fruit and arrange on a plate with the orange.
In a separate bowl, combine the other ingredients. Chill all before serving.
To serve, dollop the yogurt mixture onto the fruit and garnish with a sprig of mint if desired.
(Thank you to the team at Bon Appetit for sharing this new pomegranate-seed-extraction technique in their latest issue.)