Sam Edelman

As you may have noticed over the past few years, fresh pomegranates have stolen the spotlight, primarily praised in health magazines for their overwhelming amount of disease-fighting antioxidants. Pomegranates, in fact, contain such a high level of antioxidants that preliminary studies suggest their juice may contain almost three times more antioxidant potential than green tea or red wine. In addition, they are loaded with potassium, fiber, vitamin C and niacin.

When you break through the tough, shiny red skin, the true gem of the pomegranate is exposed. This juicy red translucent pulp that surrounds small seeds is the edible portion of the pomegranate where the nutrients lie (although those who blend pomegranates into juice often get an extra boost of fiber from the seeds).

While it can be quite a task to pry the red beads off the fruit's membrane, the results are well worth it. I find it best to cut pomegranates in half or quarters before removing the seeds. And while it almost always leads to a sticky mess, kids love pulling them apart. The tart-sweet flavor captivates their taste buds. For this reason, they make a healthy afternoon snack -- just keep the washcloth handy.

When making pomegranate juice, quarter the pomegranates and remove the seeds from the membrane. Then place the seeds (and attached translucent pulp) in a zip-top bag and roll in all directions to press out the juice. Finish by placing the juice and seed mixture in a strainer to remove excess seeds. If this seems like too much trouble, you can simply place the pulp and seeds into a food processor, but you will not get as clean a finish.

Sam Edelman is general manager of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association. His column appears every Thursday. E-mail him at food@newspress.com.

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