Friday, November 2, 2007

A True Gem

7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey. Deut. 8:7-8

I am continually amazed at God's wisdom in providing just the right food for the Israelites. The Israelites certainly didn't know when they were wandering 'round the desert that the pomegranates they would be eating in the Promised Land would be viriley rich in antioxidants, lower their cholesterol, prevent plaque formation on their teeth, and have a whole host of other health benefits! Yet this near-perfect gem-of-a-fruit has stood the test of time. Here we are, some 3500 years later, and yet it's only been recently that light has been shed on the abundance of wealth dwelling in the pomegranate. (For even more info about the health benefits, look here.)

I can't remember the exact time in my life when I first had a pomegranate. But suffice to say that it was many, many moons ago. I do remember my mom explaining to me that we only eat the seeds of the pomegranates, which was quite intriguing to me. The fact that we only ate the seeds seemed to bend all the rules of fruit-eating that I'd grown accustomed to.

So when I saw that pomegranates were in season again, and double-bonus, they were only 2 for $4, I thought I'd broaden my horizons a bit. If you've ever seen a pomegranate, you might be, as I was, a little intimidated at the thought of peeling it. But I knew that my faithful kitchen companion, "The Joy of Cooking" would certainly be able to shed some light on the mystery:

"Score the rind lengthwise in 4 or 5 places. Place the fruit in a large container and cover with cool water. Let it soak for about 5 minutes. Keeping the pomegranate under water, gently break the fruit apart along the scoring lines. Pull back the rind and separate the seeds from the membranes. In the water, the light rind and pith will float and the heavy seeds sink. Use a sieve to skim off the debris, then pour the seeds and water into a colander. Pat the drained seeds dry and store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator until needed; they will stay fresh for at least a day or two."

And, just like magic, I tried it and it worked exactly like described. But consider yourself warned--those gorgeous, jewel-toned pomegranate seeds will leave a scarlet-hued stain on anything they touch!! So it's quite important to keep the fruit completely submerged in water while you're dissecting it. I was aware that the pomegranate seeds can be used in recipes in a variety of different ways, but I didn't feel like researching and ended up just eating the seeds. Not to dismay, though, they were still delightfully indulgent. For recipe ideas, check here.

If you've never tried a pomegranate, I encourage you to branch out and enjoy this ancient fruit. I promise that you'll not be disappointed!

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