I try. I really do. I try so hard to get in my 7 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables every day and encourage my family to also “eat the raw and fresh rainbow.” At times it’s frustrating though because we usually fall way short and of course, we have to start over every day! 😩 The body doesn’t care that we ate a salad last week or an apple the day before. The struggle is real. But, I know it’s important for our health, so I refuse to give up.
One way to keep things fresh and interesting is to keep an eye out for seasonal produce and this time of year, I am pulled to pomegranates. Until recently, I avoided this fruit like crazy because I had NO IDEA what to do with it! Once, a few years ago, I got really adventurous and bought three organic ones. I was determined to eat them, so what did I do? I put them in a beautiful bowl, so I could admire my pretty poms each day. As if they would somehow magically be consumed through my eyes. When I started feeling guilty for not actually eating these pricey things, I found I’d waited too long. They’d become shrunken and moldy on the inside. Ugh! What a waste. I didn’t venture there again until last year and what a difference eating them right away made!
What’s so Special About Pomegranates?
Pomegranates are serious superfruits. They are plentiful with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help protect the body against free radicals that cause cell damage and chronic diseases. We need as many antioxidants as we can get from fruits and vegetables to strengthen the immune system, lower inflammation, improve digestion, reduce the risk of cancer, lower cholesterol, maintain healthy blood pressure and slow down aging. No joke. Who doesn’t want that? No wonder pomegranate is included in the super antioxidant blend I take every day; the JP Berry Blend.
Here’s a refresher on why consuming antioxidants is important. While I am super grateful to take a concentrated dried pomegranate every day in a capsule, that doesn’t replace the joy or vast health benefits of eating poms fresh.
Picking a Fresh Pomegranate
First, buy in season; September – January, with the peak season October to December. Check the color. It should be a shiny, deep, rich red color, with no signs of green, yellow or dark blotchy black areas. Next, gently press on the fruit to see if it feels full. A good pomegranate will feel dense and heavy for its size. Finally, you can check the stem and calyx (the small crown on the top of the fruit) to make sure they are intact and not shriveled.
Cutting a Pomegranate with Ease (and No Mess!)
It’s easier to process a pomegranate than you may think so don’t let this fruit intimidate you like it did me! Start by using a sharp knife to cut off the calyx and bottom, then score the skin along the ridges. (There will be about 6 ridges.) Gently press down on the top to loosen up the score marks. Then, place it in a bowl of water large enough to put in both hands, and gently pull it apart to release the juicy, seed-filled sacs called arils. The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl while the white pith will float to the top. Once you have separated all of the arils, you can skim off the pith at the top to compost then drain the arils in a colander. You can see how easy it is here. ⬇️
What To Do With the Arils
This is where your hard work pays off…sprinkle these little rubies over salads, yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, add to chutney and salsas or drop whole into a mocktail or cocktail for a gorgeous burst of colorful flavor and nutrition. The arils can also be juiced by hand in cheesecloth, with a juicer or by blending and straining out the pulp. Pomegranate juice is incredibly delicious and intense on its own or can be used as a base for smoothies, cocktails or marinades.
The plentiful seeds within the arils are nutritious in their own right though not the most enjoyable part to eat if you’re consuming handfuls of the arils at a time, like me. 😉 However, if you have a good blender like a Vitamix, the seeds will easily puree into a smoothie or sauce.
Be sure to store them in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. I can’t say how long they’d last but I’d say to consume within a week to be sure. Besides, the sooner “fresh” fruits are consumed, the more they contain their original nutrients.
When pomegranates aren’t in season, I’m especially grateful for my super antioxidant Berry Blend, all harvested at the peak of ripeness and dehydrated at a cold temperature to maintain the nutrients. It’s the next best thing to fresh. You can get yours here.