Autumn “forbidden” fruit

Pomegranate is most likely THE fruit I look forward to every autumn season as September rolls around the corner. I love persimmons, particularly the gooey hachiya persimmons that my grandma loved so much every fall, but pomegranates are a really hard fruit to hate. They look beautiful when you cut into them, and those little seeds bursting with brightness and juice are like tiny little jewels. It’s no wonder that they are used so often in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking because they are just so stunning to look at. And… it should also come as no surprise that pomegranates are considered the “forbidden fruit,” as once upon a time in Greek mythology, Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Hera, ate just two of these pomegranate seeds after being kidnapped into the underworld by Hades, therefore locking her into the world of darkness for half the year.

I think the biggest issue with pomegranates, or why people feel that these are difficult fruit, can be broken into a few reasons: 1) they are hard to cut and not make a total mess if you don’t know what you’re doing, 2) not everyone likes eating the seeds after sucking out the juices, and 3) it’s a bit hit or miss when choosing a pomegranate at the store. Sometimes, you can luck out, cut it open, and get all beautiful perfect jewels of seeds. Another time, you may inadvertently pick one where half or more of the seeds have already rotted, rendering the fruit nearly inedible.

So we’ll address points 1 and 3 since you can’t really push preferences on people. For 1, you just need to make sure you’re not cutting into it like an apple; cut a square off the top, then cut four lines at each “angle” of the fruit, and peel (more like an orange. That will allow you to segment the fruit into neat portions without squirting juice everywhere.

For 3, make sure to choose a pomegranate that feels heavy for its size. Also, pick one that IS NOT round; you want one that is a bit square-ish/angled. This indicates that the juicy seeds inside are bursting with ripeness and are good for eating. Lastly, look at the top stem. If it looks like the top is peeling downward, it will be ready to eat!

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