Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pomegranates - are they worth the mess?

Yes, they are worth every ruby stain.

The pomegranate arrives late fall each year just in time for the holidays. With its medium thick ruby red rind and crimson, soft yet crunchy, sweet-tart seeds, they are both beautiful and delicious.

The pomegranate has been cultivated since ancient time throughout the Mediterranean region of Asia, Africa and Europe. Today the San Joaquin Valley in California is the only concentration of commercially grown pomegranates in America. The primary commercial growing regions of the world go back to its roots in the Near East, India and Southern Europe.

This red ball of seeds has recently found itself on the top of many 10 ten healthy food lists. The nutritional research finds that they are high in potassium, fiber and vitamin C. In addition, the antioxidants help retard aging and can neutralize about twice as many free radicals as red wine and seven times as many as green tea. It’s no surprise that pomegranates are making their way into many food items and becoming a must have in healthy diets.

To enjoy these little powerhouse beauties carefully cut the crown (top) off. Then cut the pomegranate into 4 sections. Place each section in a bowl of water. Pull the seeds away from the white pith of each section. Discard the skin and pith from the water. Next, strain out the water. Each and every seed is ready for baking, juicing or hand to mouth eating.

Pomegranate Orange Muffins
Wonderful orange flavor with crunch.

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of orange zest (about 2 oranges)
1 ½ cups pomegranate seeds (1 pomegranate)
1 cup milk
1 egg
¼ cup oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line or butter muffin tins.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in orange zest and pomegranate seeds. Make a well in the center.

In large measuring cup, blend milk, egg and oil. Pour liquid into the well. Sir until batter is moistened. The batter will be lumpy. Spoon batter into 12 large tins or 24 small tins, filling each to the rim. Bake in a 400 degree oven until lightly brown, about 15 minutes for large muffins and 12 minutes for small. Remove muffins from pans. Serve warm or cool.

Yields 12 large or 24 small muffins

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