Bursting with glossy crimson rubies, the pomegranate is one of the most beautiful and unusual fruit.
Cultures in the Middle East and Mediterranean have been growing pomegranates for centuries, and now it’s one of the most extensively cultivated fruit for its flavour and colour. Throughout history the fleshy seeds – or arils – have been used in sauces for poultry or fish, ground up for chutneys and curries, stirred into marinades for meat or simply blended and sipped as juice.
Contrary to the myth, the number of rubies in a pomegranate is not always the same (613), but varies from 200 to over 1000. That’s a lot of little nutritious nuggets packed into one bright globe.
The fruit contains no cholesterol or saturated fats, and is a rich source of soluble and insoluble dietary fibre. Abundant anti-oxidants lend the pomegranate its status as a so-called super fruit, as well as its quantity of vital B-complex vitamins and minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, and manganese.
Preparing the fruit is easiest in a bowl of water, in which the arils sink and the white pulp rises. Another effective way of harvesting the arils is to hold half a pomegranate face down on your palm, smack the rind sharply with a large spoon and allow the rubies to slip through your fingers into a bowl.
• Pomegranate rubies add colour and kick to many a salad. Try melon, caperberries and rocket; green beans, asparagus and feta; roast veg, couscous and rocket; or even a traditional coleslaw.
• Combine torn radicchio leaves with watercress and witlof (endives). Crumble goat’s cheese over the top, scatter with pistachios and pomegranate rubies and drizzle with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice.
• The sweet, slightly tart taste of pomegranate rubies is perfect for tabbouleh. Soak bulgar for 10 minutes in boiling water, then drain. Then add chopped fresh parsley, chopped fresh mint, pomegranate rubies, thinly sliced shallots, olive oil and fresh lemon juice.
• Make a decadent rice side dish by infusing basmati rice with saffron and adding lemon zest, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, pistachio kernels, pitted dates and pomegranate rubies.
• Pomegranate juice makes a delicious reduction to serve with seared beef and roasted beetroot. Simply add 2 cups of juice and 1/3 cup of sugar to a pan over medium heat, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until reduced and sticky.
• For a quick dessert, combine Greek-style yoghurt, honey, orange-flower water and pomegranate rubies. Stir and divide between serving glasses. Scatter with a few more rubies and some mint leaves.
• When pomegranates are in season and your guests worth impressing, whip up a creamy dreamy pomegranate semifreddo.
• Pomegranates also add a nice twist to traditional cocktails like margaritas or a white Russian.
Image by Chany14