I've always liked pomegranates, but the fresh fruit always seemed like more trouble than they were worth. Picking out the seeds by hand took ages, and the kitchen (and my hands) always looked like I'd butchered something by the time I was finished. Recently, however, my mother came up with this trick for getting all the tasty seeds out of a pomegranate without making a mess, so we thought we'd share it here. It's quick and easy, and makes those delicious, health fruit a bit less intimidating and a lot easier to work into your diet.
Step 1: What You'll Need...
Besides the obvious pomegranate, you'll need:
- a bowl (big enough to hold the pomegranate, but not too big to balance the chopsticks over)
- a pair of chopsticks
- a knife
- cling film
- a few paper towels (optional)
- a large spoon (or something else to hit the pomegranate with - rolling pin, spatula, etc.)
Step 2: Cut the Pomegranate in Half.
Take the knife, and cut the pomegranate around the middle - not through the stem/bottom frilly bit (does anyone know what it's actually called?), but through its 'equator'. It helps to do this in the bowl, so the juice doesn't drip all over the place. If you hold the fruit with a paper towel while you're cutting it, you can avoid staining your hands red, but unfortunately it doesn't make for good pictures.
Step 3: Set Up the Chopsticks.
Set the pomegranate aside for now. (Put it on one of the paper towels to keep your workspace clean.)
Take the two chopsticks and lay them over the top of the bowl, a few inches apart. Then take one half of your pomegranate and place it, seed side down, on top of the chopsticks. It should be suspended over the bowl fairly firmly (i.e. not wobbly or just balanced. It needs to hold up to a bit of a beating.).
If you don't have any chopsticks on hand, you can probably get away with using a pair of spoons or something, as long as you're careful not to crack the bowl in later steps. Bamboo skewers could work, but you might want to use more than two so they don't break.
Step 4: Cover It With Cling Film.
This step is just to keep your kitchen a bit neater. (In other words, you can probably skip it if you really want, but then the cleanup is your fault.)
Lay a sheet of cling film over the pomegranate, and tuck the edges around the bowl and chopsticks. Try to keep it as tight as possible, so seeds and juice don't get out during the next step.
Step 5: Beat Your Pomegranate.
Now for the fun part. Take your large spoon (or rolling pin or whatever) and start smacking the pomegranate. (It's great stress relief!) You'll need a decent bit of force, but you should start to see seeds falling out of the fruit almost immediately. Turn the bowl around as you go and make sure you hit the pomegranate from all angles to get out all the seeds. Don't worry if the skin splits (it probably will); just adjust the chopsticks if necessary and keep hitting until all (or at least most of) the seeds are out.
Use the knife (or your fingers) to pick out the last of the seeds. (There are usually a few stuck around the edges.) Trust me, this method is still much quicker than trying to pull them all out by hand.
Step 6: Repeat for the Other Half.
Repeat steps 3-5 for the other half of your pomegranate. You might want to use another bowl (or transfer out some of the seeds) if the one you have is nearly full.
Step 7: Clean Up the Seeds.
There will probably be a few bits of membrane that came out of the pomegranate with the seeds, but these are generally easy to spot and pull out at this stage. Toss those out with the skins, or keep them if you can think of anything to do with them. (The skins and membranes of pomegranates are supposedly full of antioxidants, but they taste foul, and I have no clue what else to do with them.)
Step 8: Enjoy Your Pomegranate!
That's it; you now have a bowl full of delicious pomegranate seeds ready to eat! Toss them in a salad, eat them as a snack, mix them into a smoothie or yoghurt, etc. They freeze very well, so you can keep a bag in your freezer to munch or add to recipes whenever you like. (If you want to freeze them, I recommend spreading them out on a cookie sheet and putting them in the freezer like that, and then transferring them into a bag or container once they've solidified. This will keep them from freezing into clumps and make it easier to take out exactly the amount you want later.)