The Kitchen Diva

Pomegranates and pomegranate juice contain nutrients to fight cancer and heart disease.

Pomegranates are known as a superfood with tons of wonderful health benefits, including fighting cancer and heart disease, as well as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. They're also loaded with B vitamins, potassium and folic acid.

If you've never tried eating or cooking with pomegranates, now's the time! Pomegranates are in season and available through November, and some years into December and even January. Pomegranate concentrate is available throughout the year.

A pomegranate is about the size of an apple, and has a leathery, deep-red to purplish-red rind. When choosing the perfect pomegranate, look at the skin. It should be thin, tough and unbroken, indicating the flavor is well-developed. Pomegranates can be held at room temperature for reasonable periods of time, out of direct sun.

Most of the fiber you get from eating pomegranates comes from the arils (seeds). So to keep up with a healthy dose of daily fiber, crunch away! You also can sprinkle pomegranate seeds over broiled fish, salads, fruit desserts, cakes and puddings, or use them in marinades, glazes and for garnish. Pomegranate seeds also are a delicious topping for waffles, oatmeal, pancakes, cereal or sundaes.

HOW TO REMOVE POMEGRANATE SEEDS

Only the seeds, with their sweet-tart flavor and juice-squirting texture, are edible. Also, for the fullest of flavor, the seeds should have an abundance of juice. One medium-size pomegranate will yield about 1/2 cup of juice or 3/4 cup of seeds.

1 pomegranate

Sharp knife

Sturdy spatula or wooden spoon

Medium-size bowl

Storage container or zippered bag

1. Wash the pomegranates well before using them. Any time you're cutting into a fruit or vegetable with a skin or rind, you take the chance of introducing bacteria from the outer surface into the edible portion.

2. After washing, slice the pomegranate in half horizontally. When you split the hard fruit open, a mass of red seeds in a spongy white membrane is revealed. The white pithy membrane around the pomegranate arils (seeds) should not be too prominent.

3. To remove the seeds, place the pomegranate, cut side down, in your non-dominant hand with your fingers spread apart. Place a deep, medium-sized bowl in a sink to capture the seeds and juice. Hold your hand with the pomegranate over the bowl.

4. Take a sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon and begin to whack the top surface of the pomegranate as hard as you can to dislodge the seeds. Turn the pomegranate over to see where the remaining seeds are lodged. Continue to whack that area and the surface all over the top of the pomegranate until all seeds have fallen out.

5. Repeat this process with the other half of the pomegranate. Pick out any bits of fibrous white membrane mixed in with the seeds and discard it.

6. The whole fruit or seeds can be refrigerated in zippered plastic bags or in an airtight container. Refrigerate the pomegranates at 32 F to 41 F. Pomegranate seeds will keep this way for 4-5 days. They also can be frozen and stored for several months.

To Freeze: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or waxed paper. Spread the seeds in a single layer, uncovered, until frozen, 1-2 hours. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight storage container or freezer-zippered bags.

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Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children's author, culinary historian, and the author of seven cookbooks. Please join The Kitchen Diva in supporting Mattress Firms' efforts to assist foster children through the Ticket to Dream Foundation to make a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of foster children in need. They believe not everyone can be a foster parent, but anyone can help a foster child. (www.tickettodream.org)

(c) 2020 King Features Synd., Inc., and Angela Shelf Medearis

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