Cooking With Pomegranates: Not As Messy As You Think

how do i cook with pomegranates

To the uninitiated, pomegranates are mysterious round fruit puzzles whose juice may or may not be worth the squeeze. For those who love the original superfruit in all its forms, however, there simply is no substitute. Whether you’re enjoying POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice, POM Pomegranate Arils (the little seed pods), or whole California-grown POM Wonderful pomegranates, you can be assured that their assertively tart, wonderfully rich and juicy dark berry flavors will perk up and enhance your meal.

POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice is known for its free-radical fighting antioxidants. | POM Wonderful

Unlocking the magic of pomegranates

Pomegranate is a staple ingredient in its native Middle East and North Africa, where it’s commonly used to make sweet and savory recipes—some dating back hundreds and even thousands of years. Its seeds, or arils, are rich in dietary fiber and add a burst of fruity sweetness to earthy salads like roasted butternut squash, farro, and arugula. They also pair beautifully with dark chocolate in barks, tarts, and truffles. Fresh pomegranates are in season through January, but thankfully you can find POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice in supermarkets year-round.

Known for a variety of free-radical fighting antioxidants, POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice, POM Pomegranate Arils, and POM Wonderful pomegranates are renowned for unique antioxidant polyphenol goodness in every sip and bite.

“In chemistry, ‘free radicals’ refer to unstable molecules that can cause damage to our bodies over time,” says Maggie Moon, AVP of Nutrition Communications at POM Wonderful. “Stress and environmental pollutants can generate even more free radicals for the body to deal with. POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice is a simple way to power through your day with antioxidants that fight free radicals that can do damage to the body’s cells.”

The pomegranates are handpicked and whole-pressed to release the polyphenols in the rind, pith, and arils. They’re made with no preservatives, added sugar, or artificial sweeteners, so you can rest assured that you’re getting the nutritional power of anthocyanins and ellagitannins with POM Wonderful products. In fact, POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice boasts an average of four times the antioxidants of green tea.

“Pomegranate juice has 700 milligrams of polyphenol antioxidants in every eight-ounce serving, and is a good source of potassium, an essential electrolyte that most Americans aren’t getting nearly enough of,” says Moon. “People are surprised to learn that the antioxidants in POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice may help increase nitric oxide bioavailability by protecting it from breaking down. Nitric oxide helps your body get the oxygen and nutrients it needs for exercise.”

How to open pomegranates

So let’s get down to business: How do you open a POM Wonderful pomegranate so you can access these concentrated nutrients and discover your favorite new way to use it? We asked private chef and private caterer Roo Hasan, who has a special connection to the fruit (besides cooking with it all the time). “Roo is actually short for my full name, Rumaanah, which means ‘pomegranate’ in Arabic.”

Roo says there isn’t necessarily a right way to open a pomegranate, but there is a very clever way that even she only recently discovered. The result is perfect segments of pomegranate arils, held together by skin, with no wayward juice splatter.

“Cut the stem end off to reveal some of the arils. Youʼll see the fruitʼs natural sections, almost like segments. Next, score the outside of the pomegranate, following the sections from the top to the base. Make your cuts deep enough to reach the center core. Finally, prise open the pomegranate with your hands, and you’ll be left with neat clusters of pomegranate arils you can bite straight into, or gently pull apart with your hands.”

How to cook with POM Wonderful

Toss arils into any kind of juicer and make pomegranate juice at home. | Getty/samael334

Juice it

If you don’t happen to have POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice on-hand, you can toss arils into any kind of juicer, but that requires hauling out (and then cleaning) your juicer. For a quicker fix, use your citrus press to crush the juice from POM Pomegranate Arils into a glass or bowl for a fresh addition to salad dressings, marinades, and cocktails.

Add it to sangria

We’ve all seen the ubiquitous apple and orange slices floating in pitchers of sangria—perhaps a strawberry here and there. Refresh this fruity classic, especially white and rosé sangria, with POM Pomegranate Arils and a splash of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice for rich tartness and beautiful color. Pair with kiwi slices for extra visual appeal.

pomegranate salad
Use POM Pomegranate Arils to add bright color and flavor to a variety of dishes. | Getty / Uta Gleiser / EyeEm

Bring it to your holiday table

Anywhere cranberry belongs, pomegranate is welcome. Use POM Pomegranate Arils to add bright color and flavor to salads, braised vegetable dishes, relishes, glazes, and desserts, or use them to garnish hearty spiced pumpkin, carrot, or squash soup (where they’ll float elegantly on the surface like glossy little soup jewels). POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice makes a delicious holiday cocktail or mocktail as well, like a tangy, gingery Pomegranate Moscow Mule.

Pair it with rice

Sweet and savory nut, raisin, and pomegranate-studded rice known as “jeweled rice” is a beloved dish in Persian cuisine that’s often served at weddings. For a much-simplified version of a notoriously complex recipe, cook basmati rice according to the package directions with a generous dose of caramelized onions, a dash each of ground coriander and turmeric, a tiny dash each of ground cinnamon and cardamom, a good pinch of saffron threads, a small handful of golden or brown raisins, and a long strip of orange zest. Let the cooked rice sit for 20 minutes, then stir in a large handful of POM Pomegranate Arils just before serving.

sweet potato and pomegranate
Try POM Pomegranate Arils in a roasted sweet potato and fennel salad. | Getty/Claudia Totir

Serve it with sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes and pomegranates are a match made in fruit-meets-vegetable flavor heaven. Try POM Pomegranate Arils in a roasted sweet potato and fennel salad, to garnish curried sweet potato soup, or simply sprinkled on mashed or baked sweet potatoes, drizzled with cashew or coconut yogurt, and finished with flaky salt.

Toss it into tabbouleh

Pomegranates add extra crunch, flavor, and color to a dish well-known for its crunch, flavor, and color. Try POM Pomegranate Arils in place of tomatoes in classic tabbouleh with bulgur wheat, cucumbers, and lots of fresh soft herbs like parsley, mint, and dill, or make them the star of a tabbouleh variation with crisp vegetables and your favorite whole grain (we love subbing in earthy wheat berries and freekeh).

Get friendly with pomegranate molasses

Intensely sweet and sour pomegranate molasses is a staple in pantries across North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. It’s used to make dressings, marinades, sauces, dips, cold beverages, desserts, and much more. You can make it yourself by gently simmering 3 cups of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice with half a cup of sugar and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice (depending on how tart you’d like it) for about an hour, or until reduced to a syrup.

sweet and sour pomegranate glaze recipe
Try POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice in this sweet and sour pomegranate glaze. | Getty / Sima_ha

Recipe: Sweet and sour pomegranate glaze

This pomegranate molasses-inspired ruby-hued glaze shines a spotlight on POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice, adding color, gloss, and sweet-tart flavor to roasted vegetables, simple baked goods like bundt cakes, and your favorite plant-based proteins. It’s especially delicious brushed on smoky grilled tofu or seitan, just a minute or two before you take it off the heat.

For even more delicious recipe ideas, visit the POM Wonderful site.

How to take care of pomegranates

Not to save the best for last or anything, but POM Wonderful pomegranates can last up to two months in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. That doesn’t mean that each pomegranate will last two months, but if you see a shriveled, sad, pale-looking specimen, crack it open anyway because there’s a good chance all or most of the arils will be perfectly juicy and edible. The arils can be refrigerated in a tightly sealed container for up to five days or frozen for a few months.

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