Pomegranates are odd little fruits, aren't they? Native to the Middle East, pomegranates are largish red fruits, filled with little edible jewels known as arils. These jewels each contain a tiny (edible) seed, surrounded by juice. They look almost like little rubies, and have been significant in numerous cultures and religions.
Not only are pomegranates beautiful, but they have a lot of great health benefits as well - filled with polyphenols and antioxidants, and a great source of vitamins and fiber as well.
Unfortunately, pomegranates can be a serious pain to deal with, if you don't know a few tips and tricks. The juice gets EVERYWHERE, and it WILL stain. The arils are embedded in this weird, white mesh-like stuff, and trying to separate the arils from the fruit can be really time-consuming. Luckily, I have an easier way...
First off, don't use your nicest wood cutting board - grab a plastic/acrylic one if you've got one. This juice stains, so you probably don't want to use your nicest white tea towels for cleanup either - use paper towels. Have a bowl of cold water handy - I like to just set it in the sink.
Not ALL pomegranates have blood-red arils inside. This pomegranate, which was grown right here in Alabama, has pinkish arils. Still super-tasty, but less staining. Win-win!
First, take a sharp knife and cut off the crown of the pomegranate by slowly cutting a circle around the top of the fruit, only cutting into the skin of the fruit. . You should be able to lift the top right off of the fruit like a lid.
Looking down into the pomegranate, you should be able to see where the mesh/pith meets the fruit (kind of like the "veins" in a bell pepper). The arils are clustered into six different chambers, with the mesh/pith separating these sections.
Cut CAREFULLY along these separations, again only going through the skin of the fruit. Honestly, it's not really cutting the fruit as much as it is scoring the fruit.
Now you should be able to gently pry the pomegranate open along the scored cuts; the pomegranate should open up, almost like a flower, into 6 wedges.
Submerge one of the wedges in the bowl of cold water and gently loosen the arils away from the mesh. Repeat with the remaining pomegranate wedges.
Finally, simply drain the water and arils through a sieve, leaving you with just the pomegranate arils. Eat them on their own, on top of salads, or with yogurt!