The Chinese New Year is being celebrated this week and I’ve been learning about the culinary traditions related to the holiday. So far, I’ve learned that tangerines and oranges, as well as chickens are symbolically consumed.
I’ve decided to write this post on yet another symbolic Chinese New Year food:
“Pomegranates are a natural for Chinese New Year. They’re filled with colorful seeds for fertility and are a bright vibrant red, which represents happiness and repels evil spirits. They’re also good for you, with an abundance of antioxidants and vitamin C to help you recuperate after the celebrations are over. You probably already know that pomegranate juice is a great pick-me-up and base for a number of alcoholic beverages (it’s often made into a sugar syrup called grenadine), but pomegranate seeds are also refreshing in salads and perk up the color and sweetness of meats when added to marinades. They make an eye popping garnish too, especially when paired with slivered carrots, purple cabbage or orange segments. If you want to experiment, peel a fresh pomegranate and sample the seeds. They have a predominantly sweet flavor with just a slight sour aftertaste. They’re wonderful as a fresh, cold dessert all by themselves.” Source
The pomegranate has been used throughout history and in almost every religion as a symbol of humanity’s most fundamental beliefs and desires, including life and death, rebirth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, abundance and prosperity. Almost every aspect of the pomegranate has come to symbolize something … its shape, color, seeds, juice. Source
Pomegranates are a symbolic food for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol of righteousness because it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah. For this reason and others, it is customary to eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah. Moreover, the pomegranate represents fruitfulness, knowledge, learning, and wisdom. The pomegranate has been mentioned in many ancient texts, notably the Islamic Quran, Homeric Hymns and the Judaism’s Book of Exodus, and is valued by many cultures for its beauty. The pomegranate is often seen in paintings and statues of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus. In Christianity, it’s a symbol of resurrection and everlasting life.
In the Indian subcontinent’s ancient Ayurveda system of medicine, the pomegranate has extensively been used as a source of traditional remedies for thousands of years for diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal parasites as well as stopping nose bleeds, gum bleeds, and toning skin. It is high in antioxidants and Vitamin c, as well as dietary fiber. It is considered to be a good source of B5, potassium, tannins and flavonioids. It is said that pomegranate juice, like aspirin, can help keep blood platelets from clumping together to form unwanted clots and has been created in the Journal of Urology, July 2005 for helping to address erectile dysfunction!
In the Northern Hemisphere, the fruit is typically in season from September to February. In the Southern Hemisphere, the pomegranate is in season from March to May.
Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Seeds
Makes 4 servings
Organic ingredients are recommended:
1 cup quinoa – soaked first
1⁄4 cup chopped celery
1⁄3 cup crispy walnuts
pinch of celtic or unrefined sea salt
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
1⁄4 cup dried cranberries
juice from half a lemon
Cook the quinoa in water for 20 minutes on low flame. Then rinse with cold water and place in bowl. Add the celery, walnuts, salt and olive oil and mix slowly. Then add the pomegranate seeds, cranberries and lemon juice and mix slowly (do not use a wooden spoon). Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle scallions on top. Source
11 Responses to Prized Pomegranates
My two year old son loves pomegranate! Some days that’s all he will eat. I just wish their juice wasn’t so staining, an that they were available all year! I tried freezing them for him last year, but for some reason he didn’t like them that way.
I experience that with blueberries. I like them raw or frozen but, not thawed once frozen.
My girls (11 &7) love these too, give them a pomegranate and a spoon and they are happy!
I love pomegranate in my morning smoothies and on my salads too. I could not imagine giving a kid a pomegranate and a spoon though, stains galore!
How to get ALL the seeds out of a pomegranate in less than 2 minutes (I’ve actually never timed myself, but it feels about like that):
1–You need a pomegranate, a medium- to large-size bowl, the kitchen sink, a sharp knife, and a long-handled wooden spoon (Yes. Wooden. I’ve tried others, but they just don’t work the same). Oh, and an apron. Though I don’t wear one, this can be a very exuberant activity and juice spraying is a possibility.
2–Place the bowl down in your kitchen sink.
3–Slice the pomegranate in half, on a cutting surface, around its equatorial zone.
(You lefties do the next steps with the opposite hands).
4–Left palm up, cradle one hemisphere of the pomegranate, cut side down, in your fingers. The idea is to leave space–about an inch–between your palm and the cut surface of the pomegranate, so the seeds can rain down into the bowl (you’ll see what I mean in a moment).
5–Grip the wooden spoon firmly in your right hand by the end of the handle.
6–lower your left hand, holding the pomegranate, down into the bowl.
7–Begin to whack the leathery outside surface of the pomegranate (which should be facing up) with the backside of the head of the wooden spoon. Whack firmly–perhaps even vigorously–placing blows at different points all around the surface of the fruit. Wrist action is definitely important in this process.
8–The seeds should be dropping out of the pomegranate and into the bowl with very little pulp or membrane.
9–Of course, repeat for the other half of the pomegranate.
10–Have fun! This is a great party trick. I’ve brought salads to potlucks, saving the pomegranate so I can demonstrate this technique. It never fails to generate enthusiasm.
p.s.: I learned this technique from my sister over the phone, so I figured I could pass it on, with some success, via written word. =)
I love that you shared this with us. Up until now, I’ve simply used my fingers which is a bit painstaking!
My little boy (18 months) loves pomegranates also and I often start the day by giving him a little bowl of the seeds. He finishes that and then hands it back to me for a refill. So far, I have been peeling them underwater after first scoring the skin but now I will try the method with the wooden spoon. Also, we have been getting organic ones but these have now run out and I am a little afraid to try non-organic.
I share your fear, Lenora! Pesticides and herbicides do not stop serving as poison when the enter our body. They are designed to kill.
This is one of my favorite winter fruits to add to my morning smoothie! That way when I add the green leafy veggies the smoothie can still look red instead of green when I take them to my grandsons although I have been teaching them that green drinks are yummy:-)
Can someone please tell me how your eating the seeds? do you put them in your mouth can suck the fruit off? I’m a little confused and scared to give a seed to my toddler for fear of choking.
Pomegranates also lower blood pressure. I have to monitor mine regularly, and it is always lower when I consume a regular regimen of pomegranate juice. I love juicing them.