So... I realize that these are not the kinds of fruit that most people see on a regular basis, especially if you don't live in a Mediterranean-type climate like what we have in California. If this is you, you're probably wondering what these things are, and what you do with them.
First, you don't eat them. No, really. Most of the fruit simply isn't edible.
The good part is the seeds. Now, these seeds aren't like what most people think of when they hear the word seeds--they aren't hard or crunchy. The actual nut that holds the genetic material is tiny, and is embedded in a juice-filled capsule. So these little seeds are like small berries more than anything else; they are intensely dark red in color (almost purple), about the size of corn kernels; and taste like tart berries. They also spurt juice onto your nice white shirt if you so much as look at them funny. And the juice stains just as well as any berry juice.
But the rest of the fruit, as I said, is inedible. The outer husk of the fruit is tough and leathery. To get at the seeds, the fruit needs to be gripped in two hands and manfully ripped open. This exposes the seeds; but the seeds are at this point still embedded in white pithy stuff that must also be removed by hand.
And as I said, just looking at the seeds causes juice to spurt across the room. So if one is a little bit too manful when one tries to get the seeds out of one of these things, one winds up looking like one has the measels. Or that one has been taking an axe to the neighbors. So usually what I do is I fill a big basin full of water, then rip the pomegranates apart under the water. This prevents the juicy splatters, and also makes it easier to separate the seeds from the pith; the pith floats, and the seeds sink.
So once the seeds are separated, what are they good for? Well, they can be eaten straight, for one thing. Like I said, they taste like tart berries. And I understand they are occasionally used as garnishes in certain varieties of Mexican food. But the most common thing to do with the seeds is to juice them. (And in fact, some people skip the whole part with separating out the seeds--they just crush and press the fruit straight to get the juice.) Then, with the juice, one can either:
- Add 1 part sugar to each part juice, and let it sit and ferment. This yields grenadine syrup, which can be used as a natural flavoring. We occasionally mix a small amount of our grenadine with club soda or seltzer water to make homemade soft drinks.
- Use the juice to make pomegranate jelly. This is what Tonya and I do with most of our pomegranates. It makes a jelly very similar to plum or raspberry jelly, only much more vivid in color. In fact, the stuff looks like you have used way too much food coloring, as the jelly winds up more brightly colored than most children's breakfast cereals--but it's totally natural.
With this year's crop, plus all the seeds we have left over from last year's crop, plus the frozen juice left over from last year's crop, we are going to be making a lot of jelly this year. Most likely we'll be giving it to relatives, and friends, and church people, and our mailman, and any other mailmen we run into, and passing strangers....