Lately there's been a lot of hype about antioxidants, molecules that purportedly prevent cell damage and reduce cancer risk. Juice company POM Wonderful claims that pomegranates are the "antioxidant superpower", higher than other fruits in phytochemicals, substances that protect plants from pests and ultraviolet radiation. While many people have jumped on the pomegranate bandwagon, I usually take these miracle food claims with a grain of (sea) salt. Wild Maine blueberries also contain a heck of a lot of antioxidants, and they're grown within 30 miles of my house. Is pomegranate juice so superior that it's worth paying $2.99 for an 8-ounce plastic bottle shipped all the way from California?
But free pomegranate juice? Yes, please. When POM Wonderful offered to send me a few bottles to try out and play around with, I couldn't pass them up. As with any product sent to me for review, I figured if I liked it, I'd say so, and if I didn't, I'd say nothing.
At first I just drank it, as a midmorning pick-me-up. It's juice for sipping, not gulping; its tart flavor falls between wild blueberries and unsweetened cranberry juice. Other members of my household found it too tart, but I believe that any food that hurts a little is good for us, so I drank the juice with gusto.I had peaches in my fridge, and I couldn't help but think they would be perfect paired with pomegranate. Since last weekend was warm, I experimented with sorbet.
I used this recipe for the pomegranate sorbet, and followed these basic guidelines for making sorbet out of fresh peaches. The combination of sweet and tart quenched my sweet tooth on a hot afternoon. I'm certainly not the first to dream up this flavor pairing. I based these baked peaches with pomegranate sauce on a recipe I found at The Gluttonous Vegan.
The peach is warm, soft, and sweet, and the puckery pomegranate sauce begins to solidify when it hits the frozen ice cream. This dessert looks elegant enough for a four star restaurant, yet it takes less than 10 minutes of active cooking time to throw together. You can tell my mind is fixed firmly on the freezer, since the next thing I concocted was a pomegranate hot fudge:
Nothing more than 8 ounces of pomegranate juice plus 3 ounces of melted dark chocolate, this sauce packs a grown-up bittersweet flavor that is not for the faint of heart. If you favor dry red wines with lots of tannins, you'd like this. It solidifies when chilled, so you can either reheat it or use tiny scoop to make intense dark chocolate-pomegranate truffles.
Occasionally I do eat foods that are not ice cream. I used one bottle of juice to make a pomegranate reduction balsamic vinaigrette, and drizzled it over a salad made with fresh CSA veggies:
I followed this recipe, and I'd recommend cutting back on the salt or increasing the sugar. Whether its health benefits live up to the marketing or not, POM Wonderful's intense flavor and deep magenta color make it lots of fun to cook with. I haven't become a devotee, but I can see buying it occasionally for a treat. Because pomegranates are so popular right now, there are lots of recipes out there to explore.