The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 5, 2013

Pomegranates can dress up a variety of holiday dishes

Q: Every year around this time I see pomegranates in the stores, but I have no idea how to eat them. Do you peel them? Do you have any recipes that use pomegranates?

A: As the busyness of the holiday season kicks into high gear, it’s also the peak of the season for pomegranates from California. Pomegranates are the latest in-season jewels of the produce department — the perfect way to dress up any dish for the holiday season.

This big, red fruit is full of crunchy, juice-filled seeds, called arils, that make any dish special with their jewel-like appearance. The juicy, sweet cranberry-like juice with a crunchy seed is a treat, as long as you have a few tips in how to access the seeds in this large fruit.

Start by cutting off the top, about a half-inch below the crown. Then score the fruit with a sharp knife. Open the fruit under a bowl of water, allowing the loose arils to sink to the bottom of the bowl. The underwater method prevents the bright red juice from getting on your clothes as you open the fruit. Discard the bitter, white membrane and strain away the water so you are left with a bowl full of ruby-red arils.

Now you can enjoy these beautiful seeds that contribute potassium, vitamin C and fiber simply on their own by the spoonful, as a garnish for any salad, or mixed into yogurt or your breakfast cereal. Pomegranate arils also add a festive appearance to any bubbly holiday beverage or sprinkled on top of any holiday candy or chocolate-covered pretzel treats you may be making this season.

Arils will keep in the refrigerator for approximately five days or frozen for longer storage. With a NuVal score of 91, pomegranates are a smart seasonal item to add to your shopping cart — and a great stuffer for any stocking — this holiday season.

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