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Sunday, December 08, 2002

Stripping a Pomegranate

Sitting here digging into a bowl of pomegranate seed and walnuts, I have this to say: People with time management problems should not be buying boxes of pomegranates from Costco.

This being my forth or fifth, I did manage to strip it down in under fifteen minutes, but still that will be almost two hours of my life given to one box of red fruit, not counting eating time.

One would think half the fun is eating as you go. But no, the efficiency of batch-mode techniques is clearly warranted here. As a child, I took the peel-and-eat approach. But back then, a pomegranate seemed as good a use for an entire evening as any other. As a more impatient adult, the operative method is to pull it apart into successively smaller sections until the seed are exposed and can be sheered off with a thumb into a catch bowl.

The trick is getting it started.

For this, I recommend a knife, goggles, black clothes, touch-up paint, and if you are a blond, a hair net. Oh, and close the doors. I did try it once with some of these components missing, most notably the knife and the closed doors. Some hours later I found a large bright red splash some four yards away on the dining room floor.

With the knife in hand, notice that the pomegranate is not quite round, but has wider and narrower areas as you travel around. My first guess was that the seeds would be clustered in the narrower areas, with the wider areas being the structural and protective frame of the fruit. This error is responsible for the blue splotches all over the kitchen walls. (For some reason, the red wipes away and leaves blue/purple stains.) Apparently a pomegranate is more interested in spreading its bright red juiciness than it is in protecting its seeds--they are in the bulges.

Lightly circumnavigate the pomegranate with the blade of the knife, from pole to pole via the shallower areas. This act should be called circumcision, but is not. Do not circumcise your pomegranate. Gently pull apart. You may have to do some peeling in order to get enough of an angle on it to pull it apart without squeezing too hard. You will know when you have squeezed too hard by the string of profanities leaving your lips. I recommend cleaning it up now before it sinks in. Yes, all the appliances too. If someone asks you about your face later, do not under any circumstances say the word "smallpox".

Commence afore mentioned pulling apart, shearing, and eventually eating. Voila, you have conquered the pomegranate.

Let me know if you have other applicable techniques or tricks.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com