With their dusky-pink flesh hiding ruby-red jewels inside, pomegranates provide a welcome burst of colour in the midst of gloomy winter days. These pretty fruits not only taste great, they pack some serious punch in the nutrition stakes, too – it’s time to give ‘em a bash!
From the latin word meaning ‘seeded apple’, pomegranates are grown in America, Spain, India and the Middle East. Extracting their vivid red seeds takes a little work, but the pop of sweet, sour flavour that explodes in every bite is well worth the effort.
What’s more, pomegranates boast some seriously big-hitting nutritional benefits. They’re high in vitamin B, which is known to boost our metabolism and immune systems, as well as helping to combat fatigue. Vitamin B also keeps our nervous systems in tip-top condition, helping cells send signals to each other. Pomegranates also contain high levels of vitamin C, another great vitamin for your immune system; fibre, which is important for digestion; and potassium, which helps balance fluids in the body.
With so many brilliant health benefits, packing pomegranates into your diet is a no-brainer, and eating the gems is the easiest way to do this. They’re at home in Middle-Eastern dishes like this aubergine and pomegranate salad, but it’s also worth mixing up the flavour combinations. Experiment with Asian-style pairings like nori, soy and coriander in this brown rice bowl, where the fruits will provide a welcome pop of fresh sweetness. A killer combo of nutty brown sushi rice, edamame and coriander, this rainbow-coloured dish would make a satisfying workday lunch.
The cheerful pink jewels in a pomegranate can even jazz up good old H2O – try combining with their natural bedfellows, limes, for a perky flavoured water. To release the seeds from the skin, halve the fruit and bash it over a bowl – the back of a wooden spoon is the best tool for this.
Made by simmering down the juice with sugar until thick and syrupy, pomegranate molasses is a staple in Middle Eastern dishes. It has a sweet acidity that could be compared to balsamic vinegar, save for its more complex, fruitier flavour that means it’s wise to use it sparingly.
Make a punchy dressing for a Middle Eastern-style couscous, feta and roasted veggie salad, or use for added intensity in soups, stews and marinades. Pomegranate molasses makes a brilliantly sticky glaze for mackerel in this gorgeous recipe from the January issue of Jamie magazine – it works a treat with the sharp, fragrant flavours of satsuma and fennel.
As long as you opt for one with no added sugar, you can still benefit from the vitamins contained in pomegranates in juice form. Combined with tomatoes and paprika, the juice in this hearty stew really brings the dish to life. You can buy pomegranate juice ready made, or to extract it yourself, place a halved fruit over a sieve and squeeze the juice into a bowl by pressing on the back of it with a wooden spoon.