I won’t lie. I love pomegranates. I discovered them last year and have had a hopeless one-pom-a-day habit ever since. I was so sad when they disappeared around mid-January and felt deprived. Pomegranate juice just isn’t a good substitute; no crunch, no texture, no nice fullness in your stomach. It just doesn’t taste the same.
The fruit is gorgeous, filling and rich in both antioxidants and metaphor. For want of a few pomegranate seeds, Persephone had to spend half her life in hell. Solomon’s crown was based on that of a pomegranate’s flower. The fruit is a near-universal symbol of the feminine, and some cultures consider it sacred.
So I get really depressed when I hear people dismiss a luscious pom as ‘too difficult, too messy, too much work’. You guys are depriving yourself of a wonderful fruit! In my experience it’s no more work than an orange- and nobody complains about having to get their fingers dirty plucking bits of rind or pericarp off orange slices, do they?
There is a lot of advice on the internet about how to eat a pomegranate- one of the most common suggestions is to dunk the fruit in water after scoring it and let it soak so that the flesh softens and releases the seeds, which you can then pluck free with your fingers.
All of these methods are so slow! You want to get to the delicious red seeds right away, right? With all humbleness, as someone who eats a lot of poms, I have an alternative suggestion.
Just eat it.
You will need to make a couple of cuts in the fruit. First, chop off the calyx or crown, and then gently notch – do not cut all the way through – the fruit all the way around from stem to stem. If you cut deep enough that juice stains your blade, you’re cutting too deep and have punctured the seeds. Go gentle.
With your thumbs, pull apart the two sections carefully and slowly. You will hear a slight tearing, cracking sound. The rind of a pomegranate is not very strong, so you don’t have to be too rough. Even a girl with weak hands like me can seperate a notched pom. Have a bowl ready at this point to dump discarded rind and flesh portions into.
The pomegranate sections off internally, with ruby-red arils clustering in several segments that are seperated by thin white ‘veils. These segments are not regular or predictably laid out like an orange, but just a little probing and pulling with your thumbs will allow you to identify the sections. Tear off sections as you find them. You should get a nice big chunk of flesh covered in juicy seeds. Discard any sections that look brown or wilted. You can eat white-colored seeds if you find them, but they will be much less flavorful than dark red ones.
Pomegranate seeds are set up a lot like corn on the cob- firm kernels set into a soft yellowish supporting matrix. Unlike corn in the cob, however, you are actually able to liberate individual kernels completely and cleanly from the flesh. The only thing you need to do with your fingers is to gently pick away the thin veils covering the seeds, and peel back the rind enough that it won’t get in the way of your teeth.
Then, gently, bite into the seeds. The idea here is to dislodge the seeds with your front teeth just enough that you can eat them without shattering them prematurely. Your eyes will be the best judge of how deep you should bite. The seeds will come loose very quickly and cleanly under pressure and pop right into your mouth. You get any juice or spurts from a mistake this way too, without getting a mess all over your fingers.
If you bite down into the yellow flesh and taste anything bitter, you are biting much too hard. You should be able to see the honey-comb like structure of the fruit underneath when you are finished biting away the seeds. Again, approach gently; you are trying to just dislodge the seeds into your mouth, not chomp down.
I find this intuitive way of eating the fruit to be simpler, faster, and much more enjoyable.