Here's Padma Lakshmi's Favorite Pomegranate Hack

Pomegranates are one of those foods that can look so tempting in the produce section, but rarely come home with you due to the labor required to actually enjoy the fruit. The pre-picked and packaged seeds never quite taste as good as the real thing, so you're left staring at those beautiful, plump red fruits with a hint of resentment. But we can't give up on this gorgeous fruit no matter how difficult it may be. There are so many incredible ways to use fresh pomegranates from refreshing cocktails to salad toppers, so we push on.

Now that pomegranate season is in full swing, and will be until the end of January, you don't have to look at them with a twinge of sadness anymore. Grab a few and add them to your cart with no fear. They are versatile for cooking and make a colorful addition to your fall and winter decor as a garnish or table topper. Now, thanks to a useful tip from a familiar face, you can feel confident in quickly and safely enjoying a fresh pomegranate. 

Padma Lakshmi's pomegranate tip

Now that you've brought home a pomegranate or two, you're probably looking to cut into at least one of them and get a handful of those sweet, juicy, perfectly crunchy arils. The only thing holding you back is the fear of dyeing your hands and potentially your clothes bright red, or leaving a suspicious red splatter all over your kitchen. Certainly you're not the only one looking to avoid the mess, and Top Chef's very own Padma Lakshmi knows the struggle, too. She recently took to Instagram to re-share her favorite hack for enjoying a fresh and juicy pomegranate without making a huge mess.

After washing and drying your pomegranate, you'll want to place it on a cutting board and grab your favorite knife. First, take the tip of your knife and gently cut a square around the top of the pomegranate, then remove it. Next, you'll use your knife to carefully score lines from the top of the opening down to the bottom, as if you were going to cut slices. Once you've scored your lines, you can peel them back, revealing a wedge of fruit chock full with bright red arils ready to bite into. You're then free to easily pluck the arils from the skin and gather them in a bowl so you can garnish a meal or toss a handful in your cocktail later.

Picking the right pomegranate

Now that you feel confident in your skills to slice up a pomegranate, you want to make sure that you pick a good one. While the pile of pomegranates may look like they're all the same at first glance, there are a few important things to look for so you don't waste $8 or whatever they're charging for a fresh pomegranate nowadays.

First, the fruit should look red and plump, and the skin should be relatively smooth. Wrinkling on the skin indicates the fruit isn't at peak freshness anymore, per Minnetonka Orchards. While all the pomegranates in the store should be ripe, as they're picked in a ripe state, some have been sitting a little longer and start to dry up a bit. Other than plump skin, you want to pick up the fruit and it should feel heavy, meaning that it's full of juice — exactly what you want. The riper the fruit gets, the seeds get more full with juice and are attached looser to the pith. Less ripe pomegranates hold the seeds a bit tighter, so bear this in mind if you're picking out a pomegranate to eat or decorate with. By now you should feel uber confident in picking the right fruit and preparing it with ease, so go forth and add that beautiful red ball to your grocery cart.