Edible garnets bursting with sweet tart juice and a crunchy center. These are pomegranate arils, the juice-filled sacs that encase the seeds of this delightful winter produce.
Pomegranates are an ancient fruit that were known by the Romans. Widely cultivated in the Mediterranean, the Italian name for them is melagrana.
I’m always excited when pomegranates show up in the market but the season is relatively short. Fresh pomegranates from California are available September through January. The Wonderful or Red Wonderful is the most common variety grown in this country.
For the best winter salad imaginable, in a bowl whisk two to three parts extra-virgin olive oil with one part lemon juice or red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Add mixed greens, cut-up clementine sections and a generous handful of pomegranate arils. Toss and serve garnished with coarsely ground black pepper.
To learn how to select and store pomegranates, as well as extract the arils without giving yourself a juice bath (word of warning: don’t wear white), visit the Pomegranate Council. They offer recipes and of useful information such as the tip that pomegranate arils freeze just fine. I’m going to try that to extend the season for these edible garnets.