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November is National Pomegranate Month. Fresh pomegranates are available from September through January. This wonderful fruit is rich in antioxidants, potassium and fiber. Research indicates that pomegranate juice may lower the risk of heart attack and protect against prostate cancer. This versatile fruit is used for food and fun. Explore the pomegranate with these simple ideas.
Select a pomegranate by its red and unbroken skin. The size may range from orange to grapefruit size. The fruit should be heavy for its size. The heavier the fruit, the more juice there is inside. The red juicy flesh will be sweet or tangy, depending on the variety and ripeness.
Open the pomegranate, and remove the seeds. The easy way is to cut off the crown with a sharp knife. Score or cut through the rind in several places without cutting into the seeds. Place the pomegranate in a bowl of water, and soak it for 5 minutes or until you can gently break apart the fruit. Discard the rind and membranes. Strain out the juicy seeds called arils. The seeds are edible.
Butter up the pomegranate. Soften 1 stick or cube of butter. Blend in 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds. Refrigerate the mixture, and use as needed on muffins and toast. Blend pomegranate seeds into softened cream cheese for dessert bagels.
Use pomegranate for dips and toppings. Make a dip for fresh vegetables or for steamed vegetables. Mix together 2 cups plain yogurt, 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, 2 tablespoons chopped scallions or chives, and 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro. Chill for 1 hour or longer. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and mint sprigs before serving.
Toss pomegranate seeds into salads, puddings and cheesecake. Add the arils to muffin mixes, homemade bread and cookie dough. Pomegranates add flavor especially to rice and poultry dishes. The pomegranate blends well with most meats and vegetables.
Decorate with pomegranates. Use a large clear glass bowl or snifter-shape vase. Put in ripe pomegranates, cinnamon sticks, and whole nuts. Put evergreen springs around the outside of the bowl. For a holiday fruit bowl mix pomegranates, oranges and apples. When autumn rolls around, remember to bring pomegranates home for the holidays.