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Gourmet Living

A gourmet is a person who is knowledgeable in fine food and drink.


Pomegranates

Availability
Late September through mid-February.

Selection and storage
Look for large, brightly colored fruit with shiny skins. Pomegranates keep longer than most fruits. Stored separately in small plastic sandwich bags, they will keep in the fridge for up to 10 weeks. You can also freeze the seeds in a resealable freezer bag for later use in salads or as an ice cream topping.

Preparation
Never use a knife on pomegranates. Juice will run everywhere except where you want it, which is in your mouth. Instead, gently score the outside skin into lengthwise quadrants, being careful not to penetrate the seed cavity. Then break the fruit apart gently, following the natural divisions created by the pale, papery membranes that separate the seed compartments.

Remove the membranes by pulling them off with your fingers. Bend the skin of each segment back and either scrape the seeds directly into your mouth using your teeth or lift them out with a spoon.

Young children love pomegranates, probably because to eat them is to play with them. Just give them a bowl big enough to catch stray seeds that pop out and dress them in old clothes.

Pomegranate juice is delicious in fruity drinks, sorbets and fruit salads. It also can be boiled down into a concentrated syrup (grenadine) that can added to cocktails, ice cream, rice pudding or diluted with carbonated water for a natural soft drink.

Make your own mixer
Homemade pomegranate syrup is far superior to commercial grenadine, which tends to be overly sweet. Some brands don't even contain pomegranate juice. Food writer Elizabeth Schneider in Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables (Harper & Row, 1986) describes a technique that is time-intensive but relatively simple:

Combine equal parts seeds and sugar in a nonreactive saucepan; stir and crush into a wet mass. Cover and let stand 12 to 24 hours. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer 2 minutes. Push seeds through a sieve, to extract juice. Pour into a hot, sterilized jar. Cover with a piece of cloth until cool. Cap tightly and refrigerate for up to four months.

Fun fact
You can easily separate pomegranate seeds from skins and membranes by breaking them up under water -- the seeds sink, everything else floats.

Nutritional value
Pomegranates are an excellent source of potassium and contain some vitamin C. They are very low in calories and sodium.

 

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