Although winter means cold temperatures in most parts of the country, desolate green spaces, and mugs of hot chocolate and hot toddies, there is an upside: It's pomegranate season! When you choose pomegranates in the grocery store, don't go for the one that is an invigorating deep red hue; instead, choose pomegranates that feel heavy for their size. You've selected the perfect pomegranate — one that feels slightly soft to the touch and has squared-off sides, two signs that pomegranates are ripe. Now you may be wondering, how do I store and remove the seeds?
How to store pomegranate seeds
Pomegranate arils are perishable, plain and simple. These delicate, ruby red gems start to go bad as soon as you crack open a whole pomegranate and remove the seeds. "An unopened pomegranate can last up to one month at room temperature or up to two months in the refrigerator. If you don't happen to finish all the juicy arils inside upon opening, don't fret; the arils can be refrigerated in an airtight container for an additional week, " said Stacey Anker, director of marketing for POM Wonderful.
If you buy packages of pomegranate arils from the grocery store, there should be a best-by date printed on the container. Reference that date to determine whether or not the arils are still good. And like all produce, the nose knows; if the arils smell sour or funky, compost or discard them. "The arils will appear mushy and turn slightly brown. You may also notice some bubbles in the juice forming at the bottom of the container, which means that the arils are starting to ferment, giving off an alcohol-like scent," says Anker.
How to remove pomegranate seeds
According to Kathleen Bryant of University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension, the first thing to do is wear gloves and an apron. Opening pomegranates and removing the arils can be messy, as the reddish brown juice can spray . . . everywhere. Next, cut off the crown end of the pomegranate and score vertically into several segments. Place the sliced pomegranate in a bowl of water (a large measuring cup will also work) and carefully break the segments apart. The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl while the peel floats to the top. Remove the unwanted peel from the top of the water and drain arils in a colander.
Can you freeze them?
In short, yes! If you have pomegranate seeds that are about to go bad, or you just want to extend their shelf life, you can freeze them. To do so, line a baking sheet. Spread the arils out in a single layer and freeze, then transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag and store in the freezer for a few months. To thaw, put them in the refrigerator overnight and strain any excess juices as needed.