Pomegranate arils are nature’s sweet little edible jewels that add an amazing texture and flavor to many culinary dishes. Chances are, you’ve opted for the pre-processed arils in a cup at the store or have googled how to open a pomegranate.
I’m here to demystify the process of opening a pomegranate and to boost your pom-confidence. A fair warning though, it can get a little messy. Be sure that you’re protecting surfaces, clothes and anything you don’t want to stain with bright red juice.
How to open a pomegranate
Did you recently catch my “how to open a pomegranate” video on Instagram? It went viral! Well, for me it did.
1. Roll the fruit out
First, lay the fruit on it’s side and use the palm of your hand to roll it around the counter. This loosens the arils from the membrane of the peel and releases it’s juices.
You’ll feel it crack and pop as you roll. If the fruit feels tender already, go easy on this step. I find that this step is far more critical for fruit fresh-from-the-tree.
2. Score lines around blossom-end of fruit
Once the fruit is rolled out and softened up, start with the blossom-end of the fruit. Take a paring knife and score / cut a shallow line in a square shape around the blossom. This will loosen the leathery peel from the insides.
If you are working with a particularly juicy fruit, the first puncture may result in a pressurized squirt of pomegranate juice. Be forewarned!
3. Pop the blossom-end off
Next, grab the blossom end of the fruit and pop it off the end of pomegranate to reveal its ruby insides. Look inside and take note of where the natural segments of the inner membrane line up.
4. Score lines along segments
Once you’ve identified the segment lines, take your paring knife and score along each one, cutting through the outer peel. Continue to cut lines along the segments, I usually cut an average of five lines.
5. Open the fruit
Once the fruit’s outer rind is segmented, hold the fruit in one hand and open it with the other by peeling each segment away from the center of the fruit.
It should sort of resemble a star if you use your imagination. If you really use your imagination, you’ll see a demogorgon from Stranger Things.
How to know when a pomegranate is ripe
Here in Arizona, pomegranates are in season twice a year, November-ish and June-ish. I say “ish” because I learned that there are many different varieties of pomegranates that ripen on different timelines. (Just like citrus–did you know that??)
You can trust that store- or market-bought pomegranates are ripe and ready to eat. The outside will leathery and almost look a little sunken in some areas. You want the pom to be somewhat firm but have some give when you squeeze it.
After studying our pomegranate fruit for a couple of seasons, I feel like I’m finally comfortable with it’s growth process. Here’s a few things I learned:
- The fruit ripens all at once and should be harvested at the same time. If some fruit starts splitting a little bit, that’s “go time.”
- Unless the fruit is overdeveloped on the branch, you should wait a few days after harvesting to open a pom. This allows the juices to form better and the fruit to soften more.
- Despite seeming impossible in my mind, it’s actually pretty easy to juice a pomegranate.
I hope this article has helped demystify the process of opening a pomegranate for you! If you try this trick, let me know how it goes!