Pomegranates

Cooking | December 5, 2016 | By

Using unusual or exotic ingredients is sometimes a great way of adding something a little special when you entertain. I’m always on the lookout for things a little different, something that will peak my guests interest. When selecting a new ingredient I like to take into consideration my guests tastes, as well as other flavors and textures being used in the menu. I’m not a believer of using an ingredient for the sake of it – it has to bring something special to the meal.

In the past I’ve bought Pomegranates. I’ve winkled the little seeds out, and then munched on them, often times covering myself in their indelible juice. But I’ve never actually used them when cooking and have never tried Pomegranate Juice, on it’s own despite it being readily available in my local grocery store. So, recently when I was approached by POM Wonderful to try their Pomegranate Juice, I jumped at the chance. But before I launch straight into the “juice”, I thought it would be good to investigate Pomegranates as a fruit.

Cultivated in tropical climates across the world, with main production of pomegranates coming from the Middle East and South America. Pomegranates have joined the ranks of “superfood” as they contain calcium, potassium, and iron, as well as phytonutrients which help protect against heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. High in antioxidants, pomegranates are thought to help reduce the impact of aging and neutralize twice as many free radicals as red wine and seven times more than green tea. 

Pomegranates have their place in history. Long regarded as the symbol of love and fertility because of the fruits numerous seeds, pomegranates have been eaten and used for their medicinal properties for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians fermented pomegranates to produce a rich wine, and pomegranate seeds were often dried and used a condiment.

Buying and Storing

Pomegranates are a round baseball sized fruit that starts to appear in grocery stores in late summer, early fall. They have a thin yet tough skin which is generally either a reddish yellow or green color. This surrounds a mass of ruby colored pulpy seeds.

Pomegranates can be stored at room temperature for up to a week and for several weeks if refrigerated.

Uses

Pomegranates are a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern and Persian cooking as well as Asian cooking. The pomegranate seeds are used as a condiment in some cuisines; pomegranate concentrate is used in Lebanese dishes such as meatballs and stuffed fish; fresh seeds are frequently used in salads, in main dishes and scattered on couscous; juices are used in cocktails, marinades, dressings and soups; and crushed seeds are used in meat dishes from India and Pakistan.

Other Interesting Facts

  • Pomegranates are a key ingredient in making Grenadine – a syrup used for coloring cocktails and aperitifs.
  • Pomegranate juice can be used as an alternative to lemon juice
  • The festive color of pomegranate seeds and juice make them a perfect ingredient for holiday entertaining.

Flavor Matching

Due to the sweet yet acidic properties of pomegranates, they are best used either with bold flavored ingredients that can stand up to the pomegranate flavor, or alternatively be used to compliment a bland flavored ingredient. Here’s a list of ingredients which are a good match with pomegranates:

Meat and Seafood:
Chicken, Duck, Turkey, Lamb, Venison, Pheasant, Rabbit, Salmon
Vegetables:
Cucumbers, Eggplant,
Bell Peppers, Green Olives, Tomatoes, Arugula, Endive, Radicchio, Spinach, Avocado, Fennel
Fruits:
Orange, Coconut, Bananas, Grapefruit, Watermelon
Starches:
Rice, Wild Rice, Quinoa, Couscous
Herbs:
Parsley, Mint, Sage, Rosemary, Garlic
Spices:
Cinnamon, Cumin, Cardamon, Sumac
Dairy:
Cream Cheese, Yogurt, Creme Fraiche, Parmesan Cheese, Blue Cheese
Miscellaneous:
Pinenuts, Almonds, Walnuts, Chocolate
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