Pomegranates have deliciously tart seeds called arils that peak in season from August to January in the Northern Hemisphere. Their bright color, elegant arils, and complex flavor make them a popular addition to holiday recipes. They can top smoothies, salads, or other veggie side dishes, or try them as a delicious fresh centerpiece on your cheese or charcuterie board.
When you buy prepackaged arils, you’re spending a lot of money for a fruit that can spoil rather quickly. If you’re looking to add pomegranate arils to your table this year, consider harvesting them yourself.
Of course, if you’ve ever tried to cut a pomegranate without a little know-how, you’ve probably made a merry red mess on your kitchen countertop. There is an expert trick to seeding these fruits. All you need is a knife, a bowl of water, and of course, a pomegranate.
Here’s 7 steps for opening a pomegranate that guarantees the most arils from your fruit:
choose a Pomegranate
The Pomegranate Council recommends choosing a fruit that feels firm and heavy for its size and appears to have a healthy outer skin. A few scratches on the surfaces can be overlooked, since it’s the fruit inside you’re after anyway. However, if the fruit has light to dark brown soft spots on the skin, it’s probably rotten.
How to open a pomegranate
Step 1: Fill a medium sized bowl halfway with water. Pomegranate seeds tend to pop all over the place once the fruit has been cracked open. A bowl of water will help you keep both the seeds and the mess contained.
Step 2: Use a small paring knife to remove the top. Angle the knife so you cut around the flower and through the pith, but don’t go so deep you cut into the seeds.
Step 3: Score the sides. Look down at the top of the fruit, and identify the 6 or so distinct wider ribs along the outside. Staring from the point where the flower was previously located, score along the ridge of each of these wider, raised areas. Cut through the skin and most of the way through the pith, but avoid cutting so deep you hit the seeds.
Step 4: Move into the bowl of water and crack it open. The scores will promote the pomegranate opening along those lines. With the pomegranate submerged, place your thumbs inside the top area, and crack open the fruit into segments. They’ll separate along their natural boundaries, but adjust your grip to open each section.
Display the pomegranate as-is, or continue to remove the seeds for other purposes.
Step 5: Deseeding. Keep the segments under water and using your thumbs, gently pull the seeds away from the pith. Most of them will come right out with just a little push.
Step 6: Skim away the membrane. Most of the membrane will have floated to the top of the water. You can easily skim that away with your hand, a cheese cloth, strainer, or a slotted spoon.
Step 7: Drain. Drain the water and let the arils dry a bit.
Step 8: Enjoy!