Catch pomegranates at their peak

Pomegranate split open, with a few seeds on the table
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By now, you’ve likely heard of the somewhat peculiar fruit, the pomegranate. It’s beautiful red color, round shape and distinctive crown make an attractive display in the grocery store. Pomegranates are only in season during the early winter months, which means you’d better grab them now before they disappear!

If you’ve ever tried biting into a pomegranate, you’ve likely been disappointed. The only edible portion of the fruit is called the aril, which is a tiny red seed casing. Depending upon the pomegranate, it may contain between 200 to 1,400 arils embedded in its white membrane. Biting into an aril will release a blast of sweet-tart juice before you’re left with a seed to crunch on. When working with a pomegranate, it’s a good idea to wear an apron and plastic gloves. The red juice will be sure to stain your hands and clothes. To remove the arils, use a knife to score (cut a slit on the surface) around the fruit; with hands, pull into two halves. Submerge the halves into a bowl of water and use your fingers to gently pull the arils away from the membrane. The arils will sink while the membrane floats. Use a strainer to remove the membrane and drain the arils.

Use pomegranate arils to sprinkle on salads or to stir into quinoa, or other choice of grain. Add them to oatmeal, yogurt, or cereal for breakfast, or simply snack on them as is! Pomegranates are highly nutritious. They’re an excellent source of potassium and are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, vitamin C and dietary fiber. Whole pomegranates will keep in the refrigerator for up to three months. Once arils have been removed, keep them refrigerated for up to three days or freeze for 10-12 months. Expand your fruit intake this season with pomegranates.


Winter Salad with Pomegranate

(Printable PDF)

For Salad:

6 cups (5 oz.) spinach or mixed greens

½ cup fresh pomegranate seeds

3 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

1 Tablespoon chopped pistachios


For Vinaigrette:

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (white wine vinegar will work as well)

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Wisk together ingredients for the vinaigrette and set off to the side. Top greens with pomegranate seeds, feta cheese, and pistachios. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Yield: 6 servings (1 cup each)


Nutrition Facts (per serving): 120 calories, 11 grams fat, 140 mg sodium, 6 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams protein


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Margarita Zueva on Unsplash

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond. 


This blog post first appeared in the Pantagraph on January 12, 2022.