Happy Tu B'Shevat! Not sure what that is? Well, it's basically the Jewish version of Arbor Day -- like a New Year holiday for trees. It happens every year on the same day (on the Jewish calendar, that is) on the 15th day of the month of Shevat (Tu B'Shevat actually means the 15th of Shevat). This year, Tu B'Shevat begins on January 15th at sundown and lasts until sundown on the 16th. It is customary during Tu B'Shevat to eat a new fruit, or to eat one of the Seven Species mentioned in the Bible. For those of you who don't know what the Seven Species is (me included until recently), they include wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates, and olives. Being that it is the New Year for trees, I thought it would be the perfect time to make a "tree" resolution. So, mine is to introduce a new fruit or vegetable at least once a month to my kids. I guess it's more of an excuse to get them to try new things rather than a true resolution, but who cares? I'm the mom and I can do whatever I want.
Since my kids eat wheat, barley, grapes and olives on a fairly regular basis, I thought I would start with one of the other food choices from the original seven. Last week in the supermarket, my kids begged me to buy a pomegranate; they had eaten them in religious school before, but not at home because I find them messy and not worth the trouble. But with my new resolution, I bought the pomegranate. My son loves to watch how-to videos about anything and everything. He watched a few with the goal of finding the best way to de-seed a pomegranate (and probably to prove me wrong about the messy part and the too much trouble part). He found one he wanted us to try, so we tried it! As it turns out, pomegranates are a fun fruit to eat and relatively easy to de-seed. The edible, bright pods filled with a sweet, yet tart, juice that envelopes a digestible seed are called arils. The white membrane and skin are bitter and should not be eaten. Not only are pomegranates fun, but they are nutritious too; packed antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. But getting to those juice-filled arils was not an easy task in the past... until now.
How To De-Seed A Pomegranate:
Gather your tools: A paring knife, a wooden spoon, and a bowl wider than the circumference of the pomegranate. Use the paring knife to score the pomegranate all the way around the center of the fruit and gently pry it open. It's not very thick so be careful not to cut in too deeply. Once pried open, you will see the arils, but don't touch them yet!
The next part takes some skill, which I have not yet developed. Push up from the bottom of the skin while rotating the the fruit clockwise, cut side up. Put the bowl under the pomegranate and turn the fruit over so that the cut side is in the palm of your hand and begin the task that I think clinched it for my son to choose the tutorial he chose: Beat the skin with the spoon side of the wooden spoon, turning the fruit slowly so that the seeds fall into the bowl below. It wasn't as easy as the guy in the video made it look, but he said that he eats a pomegranate a day so he's clearly had more practice than me.
Once all of the arils from our pomegranate were dislodged from the rind, we began to eat. We started picking them up with our fingers, but my son said that in another video, they ate the seeds with a spoon. A spoon for everyone! And soon we were eating pomegranate seeds like our ancient ancestors did on the first Tu B'Shevat. Well, probably we were eating them like our ancestors before we picked up the spoons.
Needless to say, my kids and I devoured the pomegranate in less time than it took to de-seed it, but it was certainly a better way to eat it than I had in the past (and a great way to get out some aggression and a forearm workout). The Tree New Year fruit resolution is in effect and so far, it's been successful! I wonder what we'll try next. Any suggestions?