Pretty in pink.
Pomegranates are one of the most beautiful and tasty fruits around. But knowing how to cut a pomegranate, get the seeds out, and how to eat a pomegranate requires a bit of know-how. Here’s everything you need to know about cutting and eating pomegranates.
All About Pomegranates
Pomegranates are magenta-colored, softball-shaped fruits usually seen in grocery stores in winter months. Less common than the “usual” fruit like bananas, oranges, and apples, pomegranates deserve a spot in your produce rotation when they come around.
These fruits can seem intimidating to cut and eat, but they are not!
You’ll learn everything about how to cut a pomegranate, remove the seeds (also called arils) from the membranes, and how eat a pomegranate, below. Read on.
What are pomegranates?
Pomegranates are usually seen in grocery stores in winter months, brightening an otherwise dull season with nutritious pomegranate arils that are bursting with juice and just begging to be a topping for salads, oatmeal, yogurt or smoothie bowls, and lots more with their tart flavor and crisp texture.
Pomegranates are native to Iran and neighboring Middle Eastern countries. But pomegranates are now cultivated in dry, warm places across the Mediterranean, southern United States, and South America.
Pomegranate season generally runs from October through January. Like citrus season, pomegranates offer a bright, colorful food in what can be a gloomy, gray season.
When are pomegranates ripe? Here’s how to pick out a good pomegranate.
Pomegranates you see in the grocery store will have already been picked ripe: They will look big and pink. Because these pomegranates are ripe, the question is really about not choosing an overripe one.
Your pomegranate should look “happy”: think bright pink, round, and the texture of glossy leather. Don’t choose one that looks dull, dented, brown, bruised, or withered. When cut, the pomegranate should be bright, with little arils that look ready to burst.
How to pick out a pomegranate:
- Choose a pomegranate that feels heavy for its size. This is actually a good rule of thumb for citrus as well. The heavier it feels for the size, the juicier it will be.
- Choose a pomegranate that’s round with a little gloss, not dented, bruised, or withered
What is the proper way to cut a pomegranate?
Cutting a pomegranate is fun — so is eating one! There are a lot of methods out there, from opening the pomegranate in a large bowl of water (a sure way to dilute the flavor and color), to banging the seeds out with the back of a wooden spoon (this is really hard; I’ve tried).
But here’s how to slice and serve a pomegranate the easy, professional way, without making a big mess. No pomegranate cutting hacks necessary. This correct way is the best way. With this method, you will get nice, full membranes full of seeds that are easy to remove.
Here’s how to cut a pomegranate the right way:
- Put on an apron! Really. The juice is bright and likes to squirt a bit. You may also want to use a plate for cutting; the pomegranate juice can stain a wooden cutting board, which will have to be specially cleaned.
- Rinse the pomegranate. It’s always a good idea to start by washing your fruit. Pomegranates are very hands-on.
- Use a sharp knife to score a circle around the top of the pomegranate, around the blossom end (it’s the bud-like tip), almost like you’re carving a lid. You want to go through the skin around the blossom or stem end, but no further.
- Peel the “lid” off. It should come up fairly easily, revealing lobes of ruby red seeds. These membranes are full of the pomegranate arils.
- See how there’s a star shape of white pith inside with 5 spokes extending to the outer rind like a star? On the outside of the pomegranate, score a sharp knife along the length of each pith line from top to bottom.
- Peel back each lobe or membrane section. Do this face-down, as some arils will fall out and some juice will spray. Some people do this over a wide bowl — good idea!
- Use your hands to turn each section inside-out, and use your fingers to nudge the seeds from the pith and into a bowl. You can also use a colander or fine mesh strainer, but I prefer to not lose the tart juice; that’s good stuff.
Can pomegranate seeds be eaten? What about the rind?
Yes, you eat the pomegranate seeds, also called arils. In fact, that’s the whole point. The seeds are the only thing you do eat on a pomegranate! Discard the rind and pith.
What do pomegranates taste like?
I love the taste of pomegranate. Pomegranates taste tart and just sweet enough. That’s why it’s good to know how to cut pomegranates! I think of the taste as a crunchy, jewel-like, more juicy, more palatable version of cranberries, though some people liken them to a citrus flavor.
Are pomegranates healthy?
Very. Pomegranates are extremely nutritious, and loaded with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Pomegranate seeds are anti-inflammatory, and also may have cancer-fighting properties and may help with heart disease and more.
As with all fruits, you will get increased health benefits from eating the whole fruit vs. the juice. Juice loses fiber and other vitamin and mineral content, and increases the sugar volume.
After you learn how to cut pomegranates, here’s how to use pomegranate in food:
I love to snack on pomegranate seeds on their own. But they made wonderful additions to foods like:
- Fruit platters
- Avocado toast
Other ideas for using pomegranate seeds:
Love learning about how to cut a pomegranate and eat one? You’ll also like this guide to dragon fruit.
How to Cut a Pomegranate (and Eat One)
- 1 ripe pomegranate
- Sharp chef's knife
- Grab a knife and put on an apron! The pomegranate juice is bright and likes to squirt. You may also want to use a plate for cutting; the juice can stain a wooden cutting board, which will have to be specially cleaned. PRO TIP: Your pomegranate should be glossy, red, and heavy for its size, without bruising or dull brown color.
- Start with clean hands and rinse the pomegranate. It's always a good idea to wash your fruit, and pomegranates are very hands-on.
- Use a sharp knife to score a circle around the top of the pomegranate, around the blossom end, almost like you're tracing a lid around the top of the fruit. You want to go through the skin, but no further. Do not go all the way through.Peel the blossom "lid" off. It should come up fairly easily, revealing lobes of deep red seeds, or pomegranate arils.
- See how there's a star shape of white pith inside, with 5 spokes extending to the outer rind like a ridged star? On the outside of the pomegranate, score a knife down the length of each pith line from top to bottom. Peel back each lobe or membrane section. PRO TIP: Peel each section back face-down into a bowl, colander, or dish, as some arils will fall out and some juice will spray. I prefer doing this over a large bowl, because I do not want to lose any juice.
- Keeping each section of pomegranate face down, use your hands to turn each section inside-out, then use your fingers to nudge the seeds from the pith into the bowl. Eat or serve as you like.