EVOO Flavored with Pomegranate (Punica granatum) Arils
The pomegranate, which originated in the Iranian Plateau and the Himalayas of Northern India, has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. Today, it is widely cultivated in various parts of the world, including among others Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, Burma, Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean area, and Tropical Africa, as well as Latin America and California, where it was imported by Spanish settlers in the mid 1700s. Today, pomegranates are cultivated in California and Arizona to produce juice and have become more popular than ever.
The taste of the watery, tasty aril, or the juicy seeds found inside the pomegranate differs depending on the subspecies of plant and the ripeness of the fruit. In fact, the flavor of pomegranate juice ranges from very sweet to sour, though most fruit tends to be in the mellow middle of the flavor range, with more or less intense sour notes due to the acidic tannins found in the juice of the arils.
In the kitchens of the world the pomegranate arils are used, either fresh or dried, in various recipes, from salads to soups , to sauces, spices, syrups, cocktails, and of course, juices and soft drinks. Pomegranate juice, a traditional popular drink in Persian and Indian cuisines, became widely available in the United States and Canada at the beginning of the millennium. The success of the product on the American market is due in part to the fact that one 100 milliliters serving (3.4 oz., or about seven Tbs.) of pure pomegranate juice provides about the 16% of an adult's daily vitamin C requirement, in addition to being a good source of vitamin B5, potassium and polyphenols, such as tannins and flavonoids.
Both preliminary lab research and human pilot studies found that the pomegranate juice may be effective in reducing risk factors in arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases, affecting LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation. A different study of hypertensive patients showed that the consumption of pomegranate juice for a period of two weeks reduced systolic blood pressure in the patients by inhibiting the serum angiotensin-converting enzyme.
Pomegranate juice may also inhibit viral infections and pomegranate extracts have antibacterial effects against dental plaque. Test tube experiments proved that extracts of the fruit can inhibit the proliferation of human breast cancer cells, however there is no proof that eating pomegranates has any effect on the development of breast cancer. So far the research is preliminary and far from possibly acquiring approval for health claims printed on product labels, however US produced and/or distributed pomegranate juice have quoted liberally from research results promoting in particular the supposed antioxidant health benefits.
In any case the research continues seriously, so much so that in 2010, the US National Institutes of Health registered 23 clinical trials to study the effects of pomegranate extracts or juice consumption on various diseases including prostate cancer, prostatic hyperplasia, diabetes, lymphoma, rhinovirus infection, common cold, oxidative stress in diabetic hemodialysis, arteriosclerosis, coronary artery disease, infant brain injury, and hemodialysis for kidney disease.
- Anise Seed
- Chili Pepper
- Fennel Seeds
- Lemon Mint
- Pomegranate Arils
How to Get the Arils
After opening the pomegranate by scoring it with a knife and breaking it open, the arils (seed casings) are separated from the peel and internal white pulp membranes. Separating the red arils is easier in a bowl of water, because the arils sink and the inedible pulp floats. Freezing the entire fruit also makes it easier to separate.
Another very effective way of quickly harvesting the arils is to cut the pomegranate in half, score each half of the exterior rind four to six times, hold the pomegranate half over a bowl and smack the rind with a large spoon. The arils should eject from the pomegranate directly into the bowl, leaving only a dozen or more deeply embedded arils to remove.
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