Pomegranates: The Cinderellas of the Culinary World

The presence of the pomegranate in the produce aisle often has shoppers pausing, staring, and contemplating. These softball-sized red fruits with the electric crimson seeds (arils) have frequently confounded consumers unsure what to do with a pomegranate. Recently, however, pomegranates have been successfully catapulted into the culinary world and have made a debut worthy of a movie star. With the added bonus of health benefits, they're appearing throughout the food world as chefs have incorporated the pomegranate into every course imaginable.

Not a Newcomer in Culinary History

Pomegranates, originating in the Middle East and India but subsequently cultivated in other regions of the world (including America), have a history extending back thousands of years. The pomegranate has appeared in art and literature, including the Bible, Greek mythology, the Q'uran, and even Shakespeare.

The legendary health benefits of the pomegranate are not just a story; these fruits contain vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. It was these health assets, brought to the public's attention in 2002, that helped to make the pomegranate popular, but not just to chefs. The Boston Globe reports that 961 pomegranate products have emerged since 2003.

The "It" Fruit Invites Creativity

Creative chefs are utilizing pomegranates in numerous recipes. While fresh pomegranates are only available in the fall and winter months, the juice of this fruit is available all year. For an appetizer with color, texture, and sweetness, add 1T pomegranate juice and 3T seeds to your favorite guacamole recipe. Make a pomegranate syrup (1C juice and 1/2C sugar) and add it to a glass of champagne, with a few seeds for color, or use the syrup for a lamb marinade along with oil, lemon, salt, pepper, and garlic.

With seemingly limitless possibilities, the pomegranate has become a culinary goldmine for chefs exploring the potential of this healthy and delicious fruit.