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Volume III
December 9, 2011

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Pomegranates and Ornaments

By Patty Liston

Quick quiz: how many seeds, or arils, are in one pomegranate? Just try to guess as you read a little about this delicious - and antioxidant filled - red fruit.

According to herbalist James Duke, a former ecologist with the USDA, the pomegranate "is one of the most promising of health foods" with "a dozen known anti-inflammatory phytochemicals and some three dozen antioxidants." According to his research pomegranate fruit or juice may help prevent or alleviate the following:

•  Heart disease and atherosclerosis
•  High cholesterol
•  Prostate cancer
•  Alzheimer's disease

Most of the fiber and antioxidants come from the seeds, and while some people wonder about them, they are perfectly safe and delicious to eat! I chew and swallow mine, but I have known others who chew the seed for the juice, then spit the seed out - kind of like watermelon!

I've also heard of a nifty trick for extracting just the juice. Roll the whole pomegranate over a hard surface to release the juice that is inside the fruit. Don't roll it so hard that you break the skin. Then, poke a small hole into the pomegranate, insert a straw, and drink! So very good for you!

One of the complaints of eating this fruit is the juice. While it is yummy, it can stain your hands if you are trying to peel it open yourself. Here are two ways to avoid the stains.

1. Get a bowl of cold water. Cut the pomegranate in half (like a grapefruit), and half again. Submerge the pomegranate slices into the water, and gently rub your thumbs against the seeds. The seeds will drop to the bottom, and the membrane will float to the top. Drain the liquid, and the seeds remain.

2. Cut the pomegranate in half. Place one of the halves, seed side down, on to the palm of your hand. Using a large spoon, smack the skin of the pomegranate several times. The seeds will loosen into your hand.

The seeds can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for use at a later time.

Sprinkle the seeds on top of yogurt, cereal, salads, or ice-cream. Blend in smoothies, or just eat whole. If you have a juicer, these seeds will extract the most wonderful juice for drinking.

Oh, the number of seeds? Around 163.

A Pomegranate Christmas Factoid

I have often wondered about the pomegranate Christmas ornaments that I see in Christmas shops. I have finally learned that in Greek Mythology, Persephone, the daughter of Zeus, and Demeter, was stolen by Hades and taken to the Underworld. Prior to being rescued, she ate several seeds from the pomegranate. Legend has it that by eating the pomegranate seeds, Persephone was to stay in the Underworld for 4 months of the year (winter). During this time her mother Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, would mourn. Nothing would grow until Persephone would return to spend eight months with her mother, returning the land to a fruitful spring.

All mythology aside, the pomegranate ornament is now a symbol of hope. And we at DVO hope that you will all have a wonderful Christmas holiday and Hanukah.

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