Pomegranates: How to get the seeds and how to make pomegranate juice

Pomegranates are such a beautiful, nutritious fruit that it is a shame that so few people get the chance to enjoy them. Many are intimidated by the process of removing the seeds, and obtaining juice from the seeds is even more overwhelming. But the delicious reward for your endeavours is unequaled, and it really can be a relatively clean and painless process if done correctly.

Often the pomegranates you buy in the store have been picked before they are fully ripe. The best pomegranates are the ones that are so ripe they have started to crack. Obviously at this point they do not store well but this is when the color is the darkest and they are the most sweet. We try to pick our pomegranates right before they crack. Unfortunately when I picked today for the market on Tuesday, we had waited so long most of them looked like this.

I won’t be able to sell this pomegranate but it will make great juice and it will be easy to open!

We use most of the pomegranates we grow to make juice. We love to
mix the juice with tonic water, or spirits such as vodka or tequila to make
cocktails. It also can be boiled down to make pomegranate syrup to use in
cooking.

We tried using citrus presses and other easy methods to make
the juice, but we have found that the skin and pulp impart bitter flavors to the juice
so we have gone back to using a somewhat laborious method which involves
first removing the seeds from the pomegranate, then getting juice from the
seeds.

Here is how tp get the seeds from the pomegranate:

First remove the skin from the top and bottom of the
pomegranate. Cut around the circumference but only through the skin, not
deep enough to cut the seeds. This will prevent the task from becoming a big
juicy mess!Cut around the circumference of the pomegranate both top and bottom but do not cut through the seeds, only through the skin.

Now peel off the skin. Notice the seeds are whole.This is because they were not cut with the knife.

Peeling off the top and bottom to reveal the lovely seeds inside.

There can be some pomegranate spray, so I usually do this step and the steps afterwards holding the pomegranate under a bowl full of water.  The water contains almost every bit of spray. If I do this while watching TV rather than outside or in the kitchen, I cover the sofa with an old sheet as an extra precaution.

Now cut from top to bottom in about 5 or 6 locations around the perimeter of the pomegranate. Again, these are shallow cuts that only cut the skin, not the seeds.

Now  break the pomegranate apart along the natural segments, and remove the seeds from each segment. This is less messy if it is done under water.

Note the natural segments of seeds that have separated from the skin and membrane.  Gently scrap away those seeds from the membrane and let them drop into the water.

The white pulp will float to the top and the seeds will sink to
the bottom of the water. Now skim the pulp off the top of the water,
and strain the seeds, and they are ready to go.

If you dry the seeds on a cloth and then store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator, with folded paper towels on the top of the seeds, they can last for weeks. You can sprinkle them on salad, on your yogurt and oatmeal or just grab handfuls for snacks.

If you want to take it to the next level, you can make juice.

Here is a huge soup pot filled with pomegranate seeds ready for making juice.
Adrian often does this job while he is watching TV. He covers the sofa with a sheet because he prefers to not use the water, so it can become a somewhat messy job. Check out that sheet.The juice can be made with either raw or cooked pomegranates. We have found it is somewhat sweeter if we cook them. If you are planning to make juice and do not have a juice press, you should heat them to get the maximum yield. Put a small amount of water in the bottom of the pot, smash them down slightly with a potato masher to release more liquid, put on the cover, and slowly heat the pomegranates, stirring occasionally, until they have come to a simmer and have broken down but have not boiled, and the juice has been released. Then let them cool.

These are the pomegranates after heating and cooling. They are now ready to be pressed.

Cooked pomegranate seeds ready to be made into juice.

The seeds are then placed into a juice bag which we purchased, along with our little tabletop press, at The Beverage People, which is in Santa Rosa. It is an Italian Fruit Press and is made by Ferrari. You can also use a large piece of muslin if you are planning to squeeze the juice by hand.

The pressing-1Pouring seeds and juice into tabletop press

Before we had this tabletop press, we used a large old wine press we had, and before that we just used muslin or a cloth bag and squeezed by hand. The little tabletop press is by far the best way to go when you have a lot of pomegranates and are planning to make juice every year.

If you are doing this by hand, just place the pomegranate seeds in a fine mesh strainer and let the juice run out freely. Then put the seeds in a muslin bag or in the middle of a large muslin piece and twist the top until the juice is squeezed out of the bag. Continue to twist and squeeze the bag or fabric until you can get as much juice out as possible. You can get about 3/4 of the juice out without using a press. We got about 1 cup of juice per pound of seeds squeezing by hand. This is the seeds from 2 large pomegranates.

We put the bag of pomegranate seeds in the press, gradually
screw it down to create pressure on the seeds and the juice runs out of the
spout into our collection device.

The juice-1This may be the best pomegranate juice you have ever tasted!

From there we pour it into bottles and freeze or can it to use year round.

Nutrition Note: pomegranates are high in phyto-nutrients
associated with a reduction in disease. Much of the strongest research has suggested that eating pomegranates or drinking the juice can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. The research on reducing the risk of prostate cancer has been especially promising.

© 2015. Dayna Green-Burgeson RD, CDE. All Rights Reserved.

www.californiamediterraneandiet.com

The Satsuma Mandarin Harvest

It has been awhile since I updated this blog, and I feel I owe my readers an explanation. In addition to working as a Registered Dietitian, I am also a farmer.  My guess is you have realized by now that we raise much of our own fruits and vegetables, and my goal on this site is to share with you some of the things I have learned while growing and harvesting and cooking my own food over the years.

However, we actually also make money at farming, certainly not a lot, but enough to make it more than a hobby. There is one crop that “pays the bills” around this place, and that is the Satsuma Mandarin crop. Our Owari Satsuma Mandarins are a source of pride for Adrian and myself. They are the focus of our farming efforts throughout the year, and this time of year the Satsumas take over our lives.

This is the link to the website where we sell our Satsuma mandarins over the holiday season: www.burgesonfamilyfarm.com

In a short period of time between December and January we pack and ship hundreds of boxes of Satsumas throughout the United States. We also sell them locally to our faithful customers who come back year after year for their holiday and New Years treats. They come back to our farm every year because they know they can count on us to sell them the very sweetest, most delicious mandarins we can possibly grow. This year the harvest was late, but the mandarins are finally absolutely delicious, and we will sell no mandarin before it’s time!

When the Owari Satsuma Mandarin trees are fully loaded with a ripe crop, it is sometimes amazing how much fruit a little tree can hold. It is not uncommon to get up to 300 pounds of fruit from one tree. However, other trees may be taking a year off and have no fruit at all!

A fully loaded Satsuma Mandarin tree ready to harvest

Adrian and I usually pick all of the fruit ourselves because we are so particular about which fruit we will pick. We test a sample fruit from each tree with a refractometer, which is a tool that measures the sugar content of the fruit, and will not pick the the tree until the sample fruit reaches an acceptable amount of sugar (at least 11 percent and usually 12-14 percent). We also will taste the fruit and make sure it tastes sweet to us. Finally we examine every fruit to make sure it has no obvious green tinge to the skin, and then clip each fruit by hand and place it in the picking bag.

Harvesting Satusma Mandarins one at a time with hand clippers

Once we have picked the mandarins, we store them for a very brief period of time on trays while they are waiting to be packed. The trays have plenty of openings to allow good air circulation around the fruit. They are usually stored in a cool area such as the garage or our covered porch.

Trays of Satsuma Mandarins waiting to be packed

Usually within 24 hours we carefully pack the Satsumas into bags or boxes. Again, we have no employees and do all of the work ourselves, to assure that our customers receive the highest quality product. Within 1-2 days the boxes or bags of mandarins are on their way to our customers in the mail or are waiting to be picked up.

A box of Burgeson Family Farm Satsuma Mandarins ready to be shipped

So..now you know where I have been the past few weeks. We are over 1/2 way finished with the harvest, and I will be back with more frequent posts once we finish. If you are interested in trying our delicious Satsuma Mandarins visit our web site www.burgesonfamilyfarm.com for more information on ordering.

© 2015. Dayna Green-Burgeson RD, CDE. All Rights Reserved.

www.californiamediterraneandiet.com