I have always loved the idea of pomegranates – well before hearing their mighty health benefits and even before I knew that the pomegranate is a symbol of Rosh Hashanah.
But the potential for stained hands, stained clothes, stained cutting boards. Oy! Thanks to our good friend, Dorothea, for giving us a better way to cut pomegranates!
Why a symbol of Rosh Hashanah?
1. In the Bible, the Land of Israel is praised for its pomegranates. And it is said to contain 613 seeds, just like the 613 mitzvot (commandments).
2. People choose pomegranates for Rosh Hashanah to express our wish that our good deeds in the coming year be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate.
3. It’s also traditional to eat a “new fruit” – something you haven’t had yet this season – on the second night of Rosh Hashanah.
Here’s the lovely blessing to say before eating the fruit:
May it be Your will, Oh Lord our God, that our good deeds will increase like the seeds of a pomegranate.
Need some Rosh Hashanah card inspiration? Download our free Jewish New Year Cards – Inspiration for Young Artists artpak here.
How to cut a pomegranate
Dorothea prepared these how-to directions for us, based on what she learned living in China. Makes it sound simple, yes? Well, at least less messy.
1. Prepare a bowl of lukewarm water. This should be a fairly deep bowl, you could also do it in the sink, but I usually do it in a bowl so I can sit at a table and take my time. The water temperature is only important in that your hands are going to be in it.
2. Wash off the outside of the fruit. You don’t eat the outside, of course, but since you will be putting the skin in a bowl of water with the seeds, which you will be eating, I think it’s a good idea.
3. Open the fruit. The way I was taught to do this was to cut the “hat” off the top, not a lot, just a bit so you are cutting off the white stuff, but not into the seeds. Then run your knife down the fruit from pole to pole and back up the opposite side. Again, only cut shallowly, into the white part. Then you will find it fairly easy to divide the fruit into sections with your hands.
4. From now on the fruit should be kept underwater. This avoids any juice flying through the air and staining your clothes, and reduced by MUCH the stain on your hands, table, etc. If you hold on by the edge with your fingers and push against the outside of the skin (as if you were trying to turn it inside out) the seeds just come away very easily. The white stuff floats, and all the seeds fall to the bottom of the bowl. It’s magic.
More pomegranate lore
Some believe the dull and leathery skinned crimson fruit may have really been the tapuach, apple, of the Garden of Eden. Here are more fascinating pomegranate tidbits, including history, poetry, and recipes.
Send us pictures of your pomegranate adventures.