Fall is here, and it’s my favorite time of year. The air gets crisper, you get to dress in layers, and your hair stays frizz-free and under control (or so you hope). But there’s another reason why I treasure the fall: pomegranates. Dark, sweet, tart, and let’s face it—sensual. Pomegranate juice is something of a panacea. Drinking 8 ounces of 100% pomegranate juice per day has been proven in research studies to improve everything from cardiovascular disease and blood vessel blockages to diabetes and erectile dysfunction. Now that’s the kind of news I like to spread! Imagine being able to drink a sweet, tangy, delicious juice that will actually improve your health. This is a case where food is literally medicine.
Another great thing about pomegranates is their versatility. You can drink the juice, or eat the seeds and their surrounding juice sacs (also known as arils). You can eat them raw, or use them in cooking. You can enjoy them hot or cold. The choice is yours; the benefits will be there regardless. Sprinkle them on salads, over steak, in a smoothie, or plunk them in your cocktail. To ensure your house is stocked, store the arils in the freezer; they’ll keep frozen for up to six months.
One of my favorite recipes is a Thanksgiving favorite in our house, but they are a sumptuous treat any time:
Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Arils
Ingredients: 2 cups arils from 2—3 large pomegranates 8 oz. fine quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Directions: Score 2—3 fresh pomegranates and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranates under water to free the arils (seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Sieve and put the arils in a separate bowl. Reserve 2 cups of the arils from fruit and set aside. (Refrigerate or freeze remaining arils for another use.)
Line a shallow 11 x 16 x ½-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Over medium low heat, melt chocolate in a saucepan set over a pan of simmering water. When chocolate is sufficiently melted, transfer to a work bowl. Keep the bowl in a pan of warm water for convenience.
Allow chocolate to cool to the touch (but should still be runny). Add the arils and stir to combine. Use a fork to scoop out clusters of chocolate and arils; drop clusters onto the prepared baking sheet. (Work quickly as chocolate will harden.) Place baking sheet with clusters in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until confections harden.
To see my video on how to open a Pomegrante, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpZR67pmTS8. For more information and great recipes, visit www.pomwonderful.com. And for cold comfort, head to the produce section in your grocery store for 100% pomegranate juice and fresh pomegranates, which are perfectly in season through January.
Stay Gorgeous, Esther