Monday, November 16, 2009

Expanding Your Culinary Horizons One Semi-Exotic Fruit at a Time

I have to say, folks, I am slightly befuddled by the number of you who confessed pomegranate ignorance after I gave them a shout-out a few posts back.

I thought now was as good an opportunity as any to usher you into a new era. The moment was ripe for the picking.

What? You aren't amused by my obvious attempts at lame punning?
Shall I remind you that I am in a particularly fragile state today?

So - this is what a pomegranate looks like, in its purest form. They are currently in season, so do me a favor and pick one up during your next produce-aisle shimmy. (Do it, or I just might cry...)

Pomegranate trivia:

* Calvin asked me where pomegranates grow and I told him they grow in really warm places, like California. Turns out, I was mostly wrong. They grow predominantly in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan. They are also being cultivated, of late, in parts of California and Arizona, which means that I was also partly right.

* Have you ever had a Shirley Temple? Grenadine syrup is made from the juice of the pomegranate. Had I not written this most informative post, I likely would have gone to my grave thinking it was cherry juice.

OK, I'll shut up now and let the pictures do the talking...

1. Score the outside rind of the pomegranate into four sections. Don't slice all the way through the fruit, cut only through the rind.

2. Gently pull the fruit apart into two pieces.

(Be careful where you do this - the juice is wicked red.)

3. Take each of the two halves and break them in half again.

4. You will see the seeds, though some will be covered in a paper-thin membrane.

(Did I just type "membrane" on my blog? There is nothing tasty about the word membrane.)

5. Very carefully extract the seeds from the rind. The white membrane peels back very easily to reveal more seeds. It's an antioxidant treasure hunt!

6. Some people advise doing this with your hands and the fruit submerged in water, but I find that unnecessary. I do suggest dropping the seeds into a bowl of water, as the small bits of membrane will float to the top.

7. Calvin Lee loved helping with this, although he ate two for every one that he added to the bowl.

He really, really wanted me to take a picture right as he was dropping one. We got it on the third try!

8. When all of the seeds have been removed, drain them and pick off any residual bits of membrane. (Does this picture harken anyone else back to your health class textbook, or am I just psyching myself out with all of this "membrane" talk? Do you see what I'm seeing here? Anyone? Anyone?)

Our single fruit filled a little custard bowl to overflowing.

Now, eat them. You may just fall in love. There is something so enticing about these juicy little gems and their crunchy center.

Cory says the seeds taste like bark, but since when do we listen to his opinions food? This from the guy who hates mashed potatoes.

I, on the other hand, feel rather high-brow when I toss them into a salad. So cosmopolitan! So "Summers in Azerbaijan"!

Fa rills, people, go buy yourself a pommy. If nothing else, it's cheap entertainment.