Ingredient of the Week: Pomegranate

What is it? The word pomegranate was derived from the Latin words "pomum" (apple) and "granatus" (seeded) - and if you've ever seen one opened up, you know this is an apt description. Mostly grown for the U.S. market in Californian orchards for their juice, a few of the intact fruits make it into the grocery stores between October and January, when the U.S. pomegranate season is in full swing.

Originating in Persia, this exotic fruit is now cultivated all over the world for its tart, garnet juice, which seems to be growing exponentially in popularity in the U.S. market. Aside from its culinary uses and proposed health benefits, the pomegranate was used as a symbol in ancient Greece, and is referenced in Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam.

How is it used? With a global proliferation, pomegranates are used in a wide range of dishes as well as natural remedies, but the most common is the prized juice. This pleasantly tart, staining juice is used in cocktails (grenadine syrup is flavored with pomegranate), and mixed into everything from sauces to soups in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Where can I buy it in Houston? The full fruits are usually found in most grocery stores in mid-fall. We've spotted them several places like Kroger in Oak Forest as well as the Heights, Foodarama on Antoine and the large HEB on Bunker Hill and I-10.

Recipe: Chocolate Pomegranate Seeds (Crazy, huh?): Courtesy of Food.com

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