The red juicy seeds are the edible part of the pomegranate fruit. And anyone who has spent a warm summer/fall afternoon digging them out with minimal mess, knows this can be a tall task. But those delicious tidbits are sooooo worth it. They’re good for snacking, as toppings for salads and ice cream, and make very yummy juice and syrup.
As noted in a previous post, my little pomegranate tree gave us 121 fruit a couple of weekends ago. Deseeding 1 or 2 isn’t too bad, but 121 can be a pretty daunting task. With some research and a little trial and error, this is what I do to remove those yummy seeds with as little mess as possible. Before you begin, make sure you have all that you’ll need on hand. No matter how careful you are, there is going to be some mess. The lovely juice will stain, so wear something you don’t care about. You’ll also need a sharp knife, medium bowl for catching seeds, a strainer and a larger bowl for holding the cleaned seeds. It’s also a fairly good idea to be close to a sink. Oh and if you’re using orchard fresh and untreated pomegranates, you’ll need a flat bottomed cup (or something similar)…trust me. (A quick note about the following pictures…they were taken by my 11 year old and 9 year old kidlets. I think they did very well…but I’m a proud momma.)
Step 1: Cut the top “crown” off. GadgetMan likes to cut only the crown part off. I find it works a little better by backing up a bit and getting more of the top of the fruit. This makes step 2 and 3 a little easier…and it’s less likely that something will jump out at me. If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll remember that I mentioned that spiders find the pomegranates ideal places to hunt. See the little crown in the above picture? Wouldn’t you say that was an ideal place for a spider to hide? Earwigs are also fond of those little hiding places. When I first discovered this, I made GadgetMan stab and scrape inside the crown before I could go near it. Now I’m getting pretty good at cutting off the top quickly, and squishing whatever crawls out with a flat bottomed cup I keep nearby. Though I’ll admit that it still creeps me out big time.
Step 2: Cut an X in the top of the fruit and then follow each side of the X down around to the bottom. Be careful not to cut too deep going around the fruit. The idea is to only cut the skin and not the seeds underneath.
Step 3: Pull apart the fruit into halves and then quarters. Make sure this step is done over a bowl to catch the seeds that fall out. It’s okay to dig a finger a little bit into the top of the fruit to help pull it apart. You can see in the picture that there isn’t any fruit in the area just below where the crown was. Just don’t dig too deep. This is also the time to look closely at the seeds. If they visibly look gross, then discard the fruit. If you’re not sure, taste test a seed — it’s a big sacrifice, I know, but you just might have to taste test a lot :). Don’t be fooled by the color of the seeds. Typically they should be sweeter the redder they are. But I’ve had some bitter red ones and some really sweet pale pink ones. If they’re not good, trust me, tasting will tell you. Oh and also, often not all of the seeds will be bad….bruising can be very localized…and the seeds tend to ripen at a slightly different rate. At this step, I have also seen instructions that say to soak the fruit in water and then pull the seeds out right under the water. I tried that but found it to make a bigger mess then I wanted. I’ve found that with fresh, right from the tree, ripe fruit, the seeds come out really easily so soaking doesn’t really benefit any. I imagine that if you’re using store bought fruit then soaking might be more beneficial.
Step 4: While still over the bowl, gently bend one of the quarter section backwards…like you would a quarter of an orange. My kidlets say they’re making the fruit do a backbend. A huge note here…the picture shows me bending the fruit back with the seeds facing up (that was the only picture that turned out). Don’t do it that way if you can help it! Make sure to point the seeds down towards the bowl when you bend it…otherwise you’re likely to get a faceful of popping seeds! I won’t tell you how I know this fact.
Step 5: Now it’s fairly easy to brush off any other seeds left on the section you’re working on. Some might be a little stubborn, but most should fall into the bowl fairly easily. Also watch for any seeds that might be on the over or under ripe or bruised side.
(As you can see this is a perfect activity for little fingers. My kidlets love helping with this little chore…which does make the task go a faster.)
Step 6: Now you should have a nice little bowl of beautiful yummy looking seeds. Cover the seeds with water and swirl the seeds a bit with your fingers. Break loose any clumps of seeds and any pits of pith that might still be stuck to he seeds. (The pith is the white stuff that surrounds the seeds inside the fruit. That stuff is bitter so you want to get as much out as you can.)
Step 7: The pith is lighter then the seeds (most of the time) so it should float to the top where you can pull it out. When the seeds look clean and fairly pith free, drain and add to the big bowl (unless you’re only removing the seeds from 1 pomegranate. In that case feel free to skip the following steps and use the seeds however you wish.)
Step 8: When all the pomegranates are deseeded and the seeds nice and clean, you’ll need to decide how you want to store them. Supposedly they’ll keep in the fridge, in a lidded container, for a couple of days. I just bag them in 1 cup portions and then freeze to use as needed. Very simple…and they taste just as good frozen.
Step 9: Clean up! As with all great kitchen adventures, there is a fair amount of clean up work. Have you ever noticed that cleaning up always seems to be greatly disproportionate to the rest of the kitchen project? My only word of advice here is to make sure you check the walls, ceilings and cupboards for splattered juice stains (I still have stains on some blinds from last year…they seem to multiply if you don’t find them quick enough).
My tally numbers from this year’s harvest:
121 pomegranates total
17 were split/cracked
4 eaten by the kidlets
So out of 102 pomegranates I got about 120 cups of seeds. Not bad for my second harvest from this tree.
My next kitchen adventure with the seeds will be to juice them…at least a good portion of them. But that will be another post.