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Pomegranates in season, just in time for the holidays



BY DEBRA J. MORRIS

This is pomegranate season, just in time for the holidays. What could be prettier than a sparkling pomegranate cider or a fresh salad with pomegranate seeds? These beauties can even be used for decorating because they last quite a while when not opened.

Pomegranates have a leathery exterior that’s a textured reddish pink, but inside you’ll find bright red shiny pearls of juice that are so perfect for winter. Their tart but sweet juice is as amazing as its bright red color. In Northern California you can find pomegranates at your farmers’ market through February.

The pomegranate is a true super fruit that is definitely worth the trouble of cracking open and eating seed by seed. Pomegranates contain vast amounts of cancer-fighting antioxidants and other nutritious compounds. You can find whole pomegranates as well as pomegranate juice at our markets from September to February !

Visit J&J Ramos Farms of Hughson, Halog Farms out of Merced, or Nojaba Farms from Gustine for some great tasting, fresh pomegranates.

This succulent fruit was brought to California by Spanish missionaries centuries ago and are now widely cultivated throughout the state. The largest concentration of pomegranate farming takes place in the San Joaquin Valley.

Juice can be purchased at the markets or you can take the whole fruit home to juice yourself. The seeds – or juice sacs – are edible and delicious when eaten right from the pomegranate. If you are looking for the juiciest fruit, select heavy fruits with a deep red skin. Here are some ideas for their use:

1. Toss a handful of pomegranate seeds on a salad of avocado, greens, and cooked shrimp, with a mild vinaigrette.

2. Add seeds as a topping to your sherbet or sorbet for texture and simply flavored dessert.

3. Mix seeds with plain yogurt and granola for a healthy morning breakfast or snack.

4. Toast a baguette slice, top with plain cream cheese or goat cheese and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

5. Make juice! Crack open the pomegranate and remove seeds. Place seeds in a heavy plastic freezer bag and seal. Take a rolling pin and gently roll over seeds, releasing the juice. Strain and chill. Use within a few days.

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