Pomegranate fruit on wood with a red background. Pomegranate fruit on wood with a red background. Pomegranate fruit on wood with a red background. (Photo: Subbotina Anna / Shutterstock)

How to get those pesky seeds out of a pomegranate

Harvesting those nutritional gems can be a challenge, but with delicious rewards.

This time of year, when berries are barren and apples are sullen, the pomegranate is the perfect fruit to turn to for your vital vitamins. A staple of the beloved Mediterranean diet, pomegranates have been shown to boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure, lower cholesterol, combat inflammation and may even lower your risk of cancer. Not only are they good for you, but who can resist that little pop of pinkish red that the seeds give to any dish?

Getting these nutritional nuggets out of the fruit without muddying your kitchen counter or staining your shirt can be a challenge. You may find yourself at your wit’s end, with stained hands and a bowl of pomegranate seeds still clinging to the bitter white pith. You may be tempted to purchase the prepackaged, removed seeds at the grocery store. But this is an expensive endeavor, not to mention a rather eco-unfriendly approach.

Baskets full of pomegranates for sale at an open-air market.Baskets full of pomegranates for sale at an open-air market. (Photo: Leah Davis)

Here are two methods to getting the seeds out of pomegranates without splattering juice all over yourself and the countertop. In case you are a visual learner, we recommend this video, which will walk you through both methods.

The first method requires a wooden spoon and a large bowl. Prep the pomegranate by rolling it around to loosen up the seeds inside. Run your knife lightly (known as “scoring”) along the exterior of the midsection of the pomegranate. Beware of cutting all of the way through the skin as you don’t want to cut any of those precious seeds in half. Separate the two halves of the pomegranate by twisting them apart. Take one half in your hand, hold it over the bowl and whack the back of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon. The seeds should release easily from the skin.

Pomegranate sliced in half.Pomegranate sliced in half. (Photo: Leah Davis)

The second method requires a bowl of cold water. First, score the pomegranate around the middle. (Alternatively, you could score the pomegranate into four sections.) Then submerge the entire pomegranate in the water. As you begin to pull back the skin and pull the pomegranate apart, the seeds will separate from the pith and sink to the bottom of the bowl. The inedible pith will float to the top. Pour off some of the water and take out the pith. Then strain off any remaining water and you are left with the stars of the show – the spectacular seeds.

Pomegranates in a dish.Pomegranates in a dish. (Photo: Leah Davis)

There are pluses and minuses to each approach. While the seeds release easily with the wooden spoon technique, the pith remains attached to some of the seeds. Moreover, you still run the risk of splattering juices. The upside: you are able to hang on to the deliciously jammy juices that accompany the pomegranates. These can be wondrously whisked into a dressing or used to create a delicate sauce.

When you use a water bowl, you end up with clean seeds and no mess. However, the water typically washes away the excess juices.

Regardless of how you choose to harvest your seeds, the pomegranate’s possibilities are endless. Use them to create a craft cocktail, to make your plates pop or to spice up a standard salad – or just enjoy them on their own. With a little extra prep, you’ll find yourself with a plethora of pomegranate seeds in no time.

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