Autumn fruit served in a summer way
Special to The Union
Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year, mostly because it’s still a novelty. Where I grew up tends to have two seasons: blazing hot and bitterly cold. If autumn fell on a weekend we would bob for apples, but it was not uncommon to go from shorts weather to heavy coat temperatures in the space of 3 days.
Here, on the more temperate west coast, autumn sort of slides in and one of the first signs it has arrived is when pomegranates start to appear in the produce department and at roadside stands. It’s early in the season and the fruit is still on the small side, but they will be up to standards and found everywhere very soon.
Pomegranates have been a sign of the seasons changing for centuries. The ancient Greeks have the story of Persephone, daughter of Demeter, and goddess of the harvest (among other things) being lured into the underworld by Hades. Demeter was so distraught by the loss of her child that she refused to let anything grow for three months.
While Persephone was captured, she ate six pomegranate seeds and thus was not allowed to return to the living world.
Demeter and Hades eventually reached an agreement that Persephone would be allowed to return to her mother as long as she spent six months every year – one month for each seed – with Hades.
Since winter doesn’t usually land with a thump, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy this autumn fruit while taking advantage of sunny days and not-too-cool evenings. For instance: Salsa.
Combing the tartness of the pomegranate seeds with orange, onion and lime seems odd at first glance, but the end results are excellent. This is one of the few times I’ll recommend canned fruit in a recipe. Canned mandarines work here because the pith and membranes have been removed for you, leaving nothing but the fruit. Drain off the syrup before using.
When it comes to getting the fruit out of the pomegranate, there are a couple different options. One is to slice the whole thing into halves or quarters and continue to pull everything apart. The second – which I prefer – is to fill a large bowl with water, halve the fruit and pull the pith apart under water. The white pith will float to the top and the seeds will sink to the bottom. Skim off and discard the pith, drain the water into a colander and get on with your day.
No mater which method you choose, don’t wear white and definitely cover up with an apron. Pomegranate juice stains fabric like nothing else and walking around spattered with red is a good way to start rumors.
Dicing jalapenos also requires a little caution. Do Not touch your eyes or any thin skin without washing your hands thoroughly first. If latex gloves are available, make use of them.
Once the seeds are loose, combine everything into a bowl and chill before serving. The results are excellent with chips or on top of fish or chicken. Pair with either a Reisling or get classic with a Dos Equis.
Chef Kady Guyton is a local chef and caterer, she can be reached by email at email@example.com. An archive of past columns can be found at http://www.kdgcooks.com. She also welcomes readers questions and requests.
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