Use a sharp knife to score the fruit all the way around. Cut through its tough skin but not deeply enough to hit the seeds. Twist the two halves apart, and hold each cut-side down over a bowl. Whack the back and sides repeatedly with a heavy spoon to make the seeds fall out.
JUICE IT: Put seeds in a manual citrus juicer — like one from Hamilton Beach or Nemco — or squeeze them in a ricer. A food processor also works: Just grind the seeds with a little water, then strain. A large pomegranate will yield about one cup.
A HEALTHY CHOICE:
According to New York City–based nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, pomegranate juice can have up to three times the antioxidant activity of green tea.
One cup of 100% pomegranate juice has more potassium than a medium-size banana — good news, since the mineral keeps your heart healthy and can help lower blood pressure.
Look for fruits that are heavy for their size — a sign of juicy seeds inside. Mottled or darkened skin isn’t necessarily bad, but the fruit should be firm.
POMEGRANATES IN PLAY
A handful of plump seeds adds color and crunch to a sweet, creamy panna cotta or caramelized fennel; the juice enhances both sweet and savory dishes — and makes a versatile molasses (which you can also buy in stores).
BUTTERMILK PANNA COTTA
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
1/4-ounce package gelatin
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, sliced mandarin oranges and 1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes, for serving
In a small saucepan, soften gelatin in 1/4 cup water for 5 minutes. Add heavy cream, sugar and a pinch each ground cardamom and kosher salt; heat over medium, stirring until sugar and gelatin dissolve. Stir in buttermilk. Pour into a 1 1/2-quart dish and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours. Serve, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, sliced mandarin oranges and toasted coconut flakes.
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
2 fennel bulbs, cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
Fresh mint, fennel fronds, chopped toasted hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds, for serving
Heat a large skillet over high; add olive oil and fennel in a single layer (work in batches, if needed). Season with salt and pepper; cook until browned, 2 minutes a side. Add garlic, orange juice, chicken broth and pomegranate juice. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer, turning once, until tender, 8 minutes. Uncover; cook on high until liquid is syrupy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool. Serve, sprinkled with mint, fennel fronds, hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds.
ANYTIME: POMEGRANATE MOLASSES
Combine 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice and 3 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes. Let cool. Stir in 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice. Drizzle the molasses over ice cream, or add it to meat stews in lieu of vinegar.