Sunday, December 27, 2009
It was a dark and stormy night. I was having some tea, and my cat, Oliver, was curled up on my legs as I was flipping through the channels on my tv. I already had dinner, but my body was telling me I was still a little hungry... or at least wanted something to snack on. So, I got myself up.... being careful to slide Oliver over in the same position so he could just fall right back asleep. I flipped on the light in my kitchen, and started eying the contents in my fridge... I looked towards the bottom and I noticed a pomegranate peeking through the bottom drawer. Just last week, I had purchased a pomegranate because I was seeing them pop up in recipes, but I had never tried one. I stashed it in the drawer, and kept forgetting I had it. Sometimes, as I was at work, or out shopping I would remember and say to myself... I have to try the pomegranate later.... but it left my mind as quick as it popped in. This was my moment... I absolutely had to try the pomegranate.... I had no idea what to expect.
I have always been interested in pomegranates since I first heard about the myth of Persephone and Hades in my Greek and Roman mythology class my freshman year of college. I loved that class.... my teacher was so passionate about these stories and every class just captivated me. For some reason the one about Persephone fascinated me the most.... it's my favorite myth to this day. If you are not familiar with it... here is a short version:
Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the earth, harvest, and seasons. One day when Persephone was picking flowers, Hades, the God of the underworld, abducted her. Demeter was so saddened that she could not find her daughter, and because of this, the earth was starting to deteriorate. Helios, the Sun God, finally told her what had happened since he could see everything. While Persephone was in the underworld with Hades, he tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds... anyone who eats or drinks in the underworld is doomed to stay there for all of eternity. So, the deal was that Persephone could stay on the earth with Demeter for a few months of the year, and she had to go back to Hades in the underworld for the other ones. This myth also explains how seasons came to be. When Persephone was on earth with her mother, the world bloomed with beautiful flowers and vegetation... this is Summer and Spring.... then when she goes to the underworld... the world grows dark and cold.. this is Fall and Winter. Isn't that fascinating? I love that story.
Anyways... enough of Mythology... here is my story:
So, all I knew about pomegranates was that a lot of people drink the juice, and that you are only supposed to eat the seeds, and that there are little white seeds inside the juice sack. So, I just decided to cut one open, but I didn't know how messy it was! I mean... I had should have worn old clothes and goggles since it squirted all over me! Then, I saw that there were seeds all through the pomegranate and I really wasn't sure the easiest way to extract the seeds. So, I just got out a few with a spoon and it just seemed really complicated and time consuming. I thought... there has to be an easier way to eat a pomegranate. So, I put the few in a bowl, grabbed my laptop, and started searching..... How to de-seed a pomegranate. I was eating the seeds the whole time and realized that eating a pomegranate is a pain too. I was just eating the juice sacks and discarding the small white seed in the middle. I found it tough to eat around the white seed... I wasn't getting enough. As I was searching I came across some interesting information... one thing that I found is that the white seeds are edible, and that most of the nutrition and fiber lies within those seeds! I was so excited to hear this. I read a bunch of other sites and message boards and most people said that they did consume the seed, but some didn't, and it really relied on preference. So, I just decided to start eating the whole seed since I hated trying to eat around them. It was no problem at all, liked it the same, and got used to it pretty quick.
I also found a better way to extract the seeds from the pomegranate. If you soak it in water for a few minutes... the seeds can be peeled away easily, and they float to the bottom, then you just have to sift out the rind, drain the water from the seeds, and they are ready to eat! This is the site that I used, which takes you step by step in de-seeding a pomegranate: http://mideastfood.about.com/od/tipsandtechniques/ss/deseedpomegrana.htm
I also learned that pomegranates are a big part of all mythologies and religions. You can read about many of them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomegranate
All in all... once you learn how to do it... it's not a messy task. But do it right and be careful... the juice can stain. As far as the taste goes... I thought it was sweet and a little tart. I actually think it tastes like a sweet red wine, or a grape wine. Pomegranates are sure to be in my future and I can't wait use them in salads. Hopefully I will have a recipe for you soon!
How do you like your pomegranates? Do you have a favorite recipe? Do you eat the whole seed, or just the juice? Tell me your pomegranate story......