Until this weekend I had only enjoyed pomegranates in a pomegranate martini. That changed when my sister brought me a bag full of pomegranates from our neighbor's pomegranate tree. I didn't even know that this fruit grew in Georgia! I dug out The Essential Eating Well Cookbook (350 recipes from that great magazine, EatingWell) to figure out what to do with, what the Food Lover's Companion calls "nature's most labor-intensive fruit."
The fruits were ripe and laden with ruby red seeds and juice. It took a lot of work to get some juice (6 pomegranates are needed for 1 cup of juice) and I barely got a cup of juice, but did harvest hundreds of seeds (a testament to the part of the name "grenate" for many-seeded.)
Pomegranates are loaded in antioxidants--those helpful compounds that fight diseases like cancer and heart disease. The longer we live the more damage from oxidation can occur in the body (like rust on on old car) so eating foods rich in antioxidants is a smart move for those of us who have a few miles on our bodies. Antioxidant supplements have not proven to be as effective in fighting disease as researchers had hoped, but eating foods rich in antioxidants has many benefits. These foods tend to have the whole package for good health: low in calories, low in saturated fat, high in fiber, vitamins and mineral, and loaded with antioxidants. Pomegranates are also high in potassium, a mineral that can help lower blood pressure.
I made 2 dishes with my pomegranates--a chicken tagine (a Moroccan-inspired recipe from the Eating Well cookbook) and a dessert with apples and pomegranate seeds. The chicken dish used both pomegranate juice (which I had to supplement by using POM Wonderful juice) and seeds for crunch and a tart flavor burst. Both were yummy and I saw no empty plates from my dinner guests.
This special fruit is only available October through December, so try it for yourself and enjoy the taste and nutrition of pomegranates this fall.