November Food for Thought: Enjoying Pomegranates




Take advantage of National Pomegranate Month — November. Starting to show up in New England grocery stores this time of year, the under-utilized, mostly decorative, ancient pomegranate. The pomegranate season runs from late September to mid-January. The variety you'll probably see in the store is called Wonderful, grown mostly in California. Generally speaking, this variety is popular for juicing. One pomegranate will yield almost a half-cup juice and is an excellent source for antioxidants. Store-bought bottled pomegranate juice is available year-round. When buying pomegranates, look for fruit about the size of grapefruit or large apple; pomegranates should feel heavy and have unblemished skins. They are picked at ripeness as they cannot be ripened off the tree. Interestingly enough, most pomegranates are used for decorations, adding beautiful color to wreaths, table centerpieces and mantelpieces. But the pomegranate juice is the real centerpiece. Pomegranate juice has a sweet-tart taste and lends itself well to desserts. For a simple, quick dessert, lightly sweeten 2 cups of Greek yogurt with a bit of honey to taste and gently swirl in about a half cup pomegranate juice, being careful not to over-mix. Makes about 4 servings and goes great with spritz cookies or shortbread. Frozen pomegranate mousse is another great way to use the juice.To prepare a pomegranate you have two choices — peel it or cut it.To cut:Cut the fruit in half and then again into quarters. Scoop out the seeds, being careful not to smash them just yet. This step can be done in a bowl of cold water, making separation easier. Discard the yellow pith inside, which is not edible.The little juicy red seeds are called arils, and are now ready for juicing. To peel:Cut off the top piece of the pomegranate called the crown. Using the tip of a small paring knife, score down the side of the pomegranate, making 4 to 6 strips.Remove the outer skin/strips and collect the seeds. Discard the yellow pith inside, which is not edible. This step can be done in a bowl of cold water, making separation easier. The seeds are now ready for juicing.Juicing:Place the seeds into a food processor, pulse several times and then strain.Frozen Pomegranate MousseJuice from 2 pomegranates (a little less than one cup) Juice of half a lime 1/2 cup granulated sugar (The amount of sugar is always a guide when using fruit. It all depends on how sweet or tart the fruit is, so adjust as needed.) 1 pint heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks Juice the pomegranate and the lime, strain the juices and set aside. Start whisking the heavy cream and gently stream in the sugar while whipping. Whip until you've achieved soft peaks and then fold in the juices, folding gently. Pack mousse into a plastic container using a lid to cover tightly. Freeze overnight and scoop like ice cream. Frozen mousse makes a great do-ahead dessert.
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