The first time I ever saw a pomegranate seed, it was sitting pretty atop a pile of tender lettuces like a blushing jewel. I plucked and popped it into mouth, only to be in awe of the way the seed ruptured—a satisfying crunch releasing a rush of subtly sweet, tart juice. It was a culinary discovery that led me to seek the source of the seed, the mythic “apple of Grenada” that is the pomegranate itself.
Though I found the seeds lovely, my fascination with the fruit swiftly subsided once I took it upon myself to try and remove the garnet treasures—and staining my shirt as I strained to separate the juicy seeds from the pulp, crushing them with my fingers in a frustrating, jittery dance.
Since that initial encounter, I learned many things about pomegranates, including how to properly remove the seeds not one, but two ways that are much less maddening than my first encounter, along with how to pick a ripe pomegranate with succulent seeds, and how to use pomegranate seeds and juice in various sweet and savory recipes.
Here’s what you need to know about this potent antioxidant rich fruit.
What Is a Pomegranate, and How Do You Eat It?
A pomegranate is a reddish-purplish fruit cultivated in many places around the world from Iran to India, Turkey to California. They’ve been around for a long time, and are important symbols across ancient civilizations—from ancient Egypt and Greece to China’s Han Dynasty—often representing similar motifs like fertility, abundance, and prosperity.
Pomegranate seeds are edible raw as a snack, garnish, or ingredient, and the fruits can also be juiced and used in cocktails, smoothies, baked goods, or fresh juices. The hard outer husk and soft, spongy white inner husk aren’t edible and need to be removed before eating or juicing.
How to Deseed a Pomegranate
There are many different methods to cut and deseed a pomegranate, but the simplest way requires little effort. All you need is a cutting board, sharp paring knife, a large bowl of cold water, and a ripe pomegranate.
- To start, slice off the blossom end of the pomegranate—with the little crown-like protrusion—just enough to expose some of the seeds.
- Carefully slide your knife down the sides of the pomegranate just deep enough to score the hard outer husk. Score the fruit at least four or up to six times from top to bottom.
- Use your hands to crack the pomegranate open gently, then submerge the fruit in the bowl of water (seed side-down) and gently push the seeds out and away from the husk. The seeds will sink and the inner membrane will float.
- Once all the seeds have ben removed, scoop any pieces of the white inner membrane out of the bowl, along with the hard outer husk, and drain. Use the seeds as is, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or juice them as outlined below.
How to Juice a Pomegranate
You can buy bottles of deep, dark pomegranate juice from the grocery store, but with just a little effort, you can also juice fresh pomegranate seeds for juice that’s that much more special. All you need is a hinged citrus juicer or a freezer bag and a rolling pin.
If you’re using a hinged citrus juicer, simply set the juicer over a bowl and add some seeds. Press the juicer together as you would when juicing a citrus fruit, and let the purple juice fall into the bowl.
Be careful, if you add too many seeds they can pop out or cause some highly staining splatter.
If you’re using a freezer bag and a rolling pin, add your seeds to the bag and remove most of the air and seal the bag. Use the rolling pin to gently smash the seeds, releasing the juice. Use a sharp knife to poke a hole into one of the bottom corners of the bag and press the juice through the hole. Alternatively, you can empty the entire of the contents of the bag—juice and seed pulp and all—into a fine sieve set over a bowl or jar. Use or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
How to Tell if a Pomegranate Is Ripe
Selecting a ripe pomegranate bursting with juicy red jewels is easy—you just need to know what to look for. Choose a fruit that’s heavy for its size, an indication that the seeds are going to be plump and full of fluid.
Take a look at the shape of the pomegranate: is it perfectly round or does it seem to have flat, squared-off sides? Pomegranates with squared off sides are generally more ripe than round ones, thanks to the inner architecture of the fruit and size of the juice-filled seeds. Lastly, choose a fruit that has a relatively smooth, glossy, and firm outer husk with no soft spots or bruises.
How to Enjoy a Pomegranate:
If you made it this far, you already know that pomegranate seeds can be eaten straight out of the fruit for a paradoxically juicy, crunchy, sweet, and tart snack. Beyond that, the most straightforward way to enjoy this ruby red fruit, the options are quite endless.
You can use the juice to make a sticky sweet syrup for cocktails (also known as grenadine), dry the seeds to add to granola bars, snack mixes, or Persian chutneys, add the juice to salad dressings, glazes, or marinades, or use the crunchy fresh seeds to add color and texture to finished dishes, like sweet pavlovas and smoothie bowls or savory kebabs or rich stews.