by Katherine Matutes, Ph.D.
The late fall ushers in many unique produce flavors.
One of my favorites is pomegranates, which are believed to have originated in Persia (modern day Iran).
The name pomegranate is derived from Latin pōmum "apple" and grānātum "seeded", which is an apt description. Pomegranates have an apple like ordinary exterior that belies its interior filled with beautiful jewel-like seeds called avrils.
Pomegranate avrils are a good source of vitamin C, Pantothenic acid, potassium and many unique phenolic compounds. They are also an excellent source of fiber, providing up to 11 grams per pomegranate. Several preliminary studies indicate that these attributes may help reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
Aside from their health benefits, pomegranates are delicious and have wonderfully diverse culinary uses. They are great in salsas, soups, pasta, as a salsa and just plain, right out of the fruit.
The dark juice stains readily so be sure to wear an apron when preparing one. Cut the pomegranate into quarters and turn the peel inside out as you gently coax out the avrils. Avrils are easiest to remove from the membrane in a bowl of water. The avrils will sink while the undesirable membrane will float to the surface, making it easier to separate them.
Pomegranate season is typically October through January, so hurry to give them a try before they disappear from the produce aisle.
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