A couple of years ago, my nephew had just bought his first house and was planting fruit trees. He called and asked if I knew where he could get a pomegranate tree.
Well, I didn't know pomegranate trees grew in Georgia. Papa had a pear tree and grandma had a kumquat tree, but definitely not a pomegranate tree. I would imagine Papa and Grandma would have found planting pomegranates a bit silly. Of course that was before they were labeled one of the superfoods and before cute little bottles that look like bubbles were available in every grocery store.
I'm sure as savvy as you, my readers, are that you have known about pomegranates growing in Georgia for a long time. You probably even know how to eat them. I am a little on the slow side when it comes to this fruit. I probably didn't buy one until just a few years ago. Steve was preparing a recipe that included pomegranate rice as a side dish. He handed me a hard, red round orb to cut up. Luckily, the fruit came with instructions attached that laid out in detail how to get out the seeds.
Even with the instructions, it was quite a comical adventure. Not knowing about pomegranates, I was a little taken aback at how little "fruit" there was inside, but when I tasted the burst of sweet and tart juice squirt in my mouth as I bit down, I was in love.
My nephew found pomegranate trees and planted them. Since then I have heard several people talk about their pomegranate trees. Apparently they grow well in dry, humid areas. They are cold-hardy down to minus 10 degrees. If you have a neighbor with a pomegranate tree, get to know them better! Pomegranates are not the cheapest fruit in the market so having a tree next door could give you the opportunity to enjoy more pomegranates than those of us who have to purchase them!
If you are new to pomegranates, here are a few basic facts that can help you start enjoying this exotic fruit.
1. The "fruit" of the pomegranate is the seed or the arils. When you open a pomegranate, you'll find tiny red jewels inside. The red color is the juice sac that surrounds a tiny seed. The arils are encased in a white membrane that is bitter, so you have to loosen the arils from the membrane. The best way to do this is in a bowl of water. The juice will stain, and by releasing the arils in water you lessen the risk of dyeing your hands and your clothes. Most stores have instructions on how to get at the red jewels and the internet is full of video instructions. Of course, you can buy the arils already out of the pomegranate at most groceries. They're a little pricey but a lot less work!
2. When purchasing pomegranates, choose one that is heavy for its size. The weight is the juice, so the heavier the juicier. Color can vary between deep pink or red and isn't an indicator of ripeness. Surface blemishes don't affect the quality of the fruit.
3. Pomegranates can be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to three months. The arils can be frozen by spreading them out on a sheet pan and freezing for two hours. Transfer frozen arils to a plastic bag and store up to three months in the freezer.
4. Pomegranates are great for holiday dÃ©cor. They're beautiful whole in a glass bowl with other fruits and greenery. Cut one in half and use on wreaths or arrangements. Pomegranates dry beautifully and retain their color for several weeks.
5. Pomegranates are low in calories and high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. They're good for you!
Teri Bell is co-owner of Miss Sophie's Marketplace at the Mighty Eighth in Pooler. Go to sophiesmarketplace.com.
Winter Fruits Salad
1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1 pear, chopped
1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
1/3 cup pistachios
1/3 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup blue cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve with salad
(adapted from POM wonderful)
2 cups pomegranate arils
1Â½ cups couscous
Â½ cup olive oil
Â½ cup red pepper, diced
Â½ cup yellow pepper, diced
Â¼ cup red onion, diced
1 cup cilantro, rough chopped
Â¾ cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Israeli feta cheese
Â½ cup sunflower seeds (optional)
Place couscous in a bowl with 1Â½ cups of hot water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let set for 10 minutes. Strain excess water from couscous, if necessary. Add the olive oil and toss gently. Add vegetables and cilantro; mix to combine. Add cranberries, arils and lemon juice; salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss and garnish with crumbled feta and sunflower seeds.
(from POM Wonderful)
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed pomegranate juice or POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
1 ounce Orange vodka
3/4 ounce Peachtree Schnapps
1 ounce fresh orange juice
1/4 ounce lemon juice
Garnish: Equal parts ground cinnamon and granulated sugar and spiraled orange rind.
Preparation: Shake all drink ingredients with ice to chill. Serve this pomegranate cocktail recipe in a martini glass prepared as follows: Mix in a bowl, one part ground cinnamon and one part granulated sugar. Moisten the rim of a martini glass by swiping a slice of orange around the rim. Dust glass rim with the sugared cinnamon mixture and decorate with a spiral of orange.