Pomegranates are a seasonal fruit, available between September and January, and have a taste that's both sweet and tart. The arils, or seeds, of a pomegranate are edible, but the rest of the fruit is not. You can eat the arils directly from the fruit, or use a juicer to extract their nectar. Cutting a pomegranate, however, can be tricky and messy.
Selecting a Pomegranate
You can purchase pomegranates at your local grocery store, but for the freshest selection, try a health food store or farmer's market. When selecting a pomegranate, pick one that feels heavy. The color is not important. The fruits range in color from a rusty yellow to a deep red. Pomegranates will remain fresh for up to seven days at room temperature and for three months in the refrigerator.
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Preparing Your Work Area
To begin, you'll need a cutting board and a good, sharp knife. Since pomegranate juice will stain wooden cutting boards, use a plastic one. You'll also need a bowl in which to place the cut fruit. Fill the bowl with a cup of cold water. Wear an apron to protect your clothing from stains, and cover any surfaces with a towel or an old tablecloth.
Cutting the Pomegranate
Since you can only eat the arils of a pomegranate, and not the rind or the membrane, you'll need to separate these seeds from the fruit. You could just cut open the pomegranate and pick out the arils with your fingers, but this could be a messy endeavor. Instead, the best way to cut a pomegranate is to cut and separate each section, and let the seeds detach from the membrane in water.
First, cut off the crown, or top, of the pomegranate. Be sure to cut no more than a 1/2 inch of this crown. Then, gently make four or five cuts, or scores, into the pomegranate, ensuring that you don't cut too deeply and rupture the seeds.
Extracting the Arils
After you've cut each section, place the entire fruit into the bowl of water. Using your fingers, gently break apart each section of the pomegranate, releasing the skin and the arils into the water. The edible arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl, while the pith and the membrane will float on the top. Discard the pith and membrane.
Drain the water from the arils by straining them in a colander. Eat the arils whole or use them in a recipe. To extract the juice from the seeds, use a juicer or press them firmly through a sieve.