Pomegranates are one of the world’s oldest fruits, mentioned in Greek mythology and the Bible. Many scholars even hypothesize the “forbidden fruit” that tempted Adam and Eve was not an apple, but a pomegranate. With a chambered interior filled with jewel-like, blood-red seeds, the pomegranate has been a powerful symbol of love and lust, life and death.
In more practical terms, its tart-sweet taste is a valuable culinary commodity during the stark winter season. Pomegranate seeds can add a pop of flavor in salads. They’re also great stirred into guacamole or hummus, as a garnish for curries, added to pan sauces for pork or atop a goat-cheese bruschetta. Anywhere you’d squeeze a lemon, consider a sprinkle of fresh pomegranate seeds.
To seed a pomegranate, score around midsection and pull halves apart. Submerge in a bowl of water, cut side down, and turn inside out, using your fingers to separate the seeds, which will sink, from the pith.
Fun Facts About Pomegranates
•The Spanish city of Granada is named after the Spanish word for pomegranate.
•“Pomegranate molasses” is simply reduced pomegranate juice. It’s used in savory dishes throughout the Middle East.
•The pomegranate has been used as a symbol of fertility in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
•Pomegranate trees can live for more than 200 years.
“Pomegranate is a bright, tart flavor, so I tend to pair it with white wines or very light-bodied reds,” says Josef Centeno, a Los Angeles chef, restaurateur and author of Bäco: Vivid Recipes from the Heart of Los Angeles (Chronicle Books, 2017). He says whites with some skin contact offer both brightness and depth of flavor.
“The same applies to dishes made with pomegranate syrup, depending on the dish,” he adds. “For muhammara, a dip which is spicy with peppers and rich with nuts, a fuller-bodied wine works well.”