- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 7, 2009

We don’t normally think of making a fresh fruit salad in winter, but think again. You usually can find persimmons, fresh pineapple, oranges and blood oranges, grapefruit, apples, pears — and pomegranates — in the produce department at this time of year, and they combine to make a wonderful medley. It’s great for breakfast, dessert, lunchboxes or snacks.

Pomegranates and persimmons have a very limited season (midfall through January), which makes them all the more special. So celebrate the winter solstice with this beautiful, tart fruit salad adorned with glistening, scarlet pomegranate seeds and bright orange slices of persimmon. Use the Fuyu variety of persimmon, which, as with apples, is ripe when hard and slices beautifully.

Pomegranate seeds are juicy little jewels — bright red, tart and crunchy. The problem is, they’re encased in a hard, tight skin that, although lovely to look at, is difficult to break into. When you finally get the skin open, another challenge lies inside: The precious seeds are buried within a copious amount of pith, and you have to coax them out, diligently attempting to keep them from flying all over your kitchen — ceilings and walls included. Don’t despair! Here’s a method that works well:

Have ready a large bowl of cold water. Slice the pomegranate into quarters, right through the skin, with a good, sharp knife. Place the pieces in the water, then pull out the pith and pull the seeds from the pith. Everything will yield quite readily. To make things even easier, the seeds will sink to the bottom of the water, and the pith will float to the top, almost by magic. The water helps you perform the separation without ending up with a kitchen and shirt that look as though they have chicken pox.

Winter fruit salad with pomegranates and persimmons

Makes 4 to 6 servings, depending on the fruit used and the context. Please note that this is more of a road map than an actual, specific recipe. Proceed intuitively.

1 medium fresh, ripe pineapple, peeled

3 to 4 oranges and/or blood oranges, peeled, seeded and sectioned

1 to 2 ruby grapefruit, peeled, seeded and sectioned

1 to 2 medium Fuyu persimmons, thinly sliced

1 large firm apple (any kind), cored and sliced

1 to 2 large, firm pears (any kind), cored and sliced

Seeds from 2 to 3 large pomegranates

Fresh mint leaves (sprigs or thin strips) for garnish (optional)

Combine the pineapple, citrus fruits and persimmon slices in a medium-large bowl. Within about 15 minutes of serving, gently toss in the apple and pear slices. Serve topped with a generous amount of pomegranate seeds and garnish with fresh mint, if desired.

NOTE: Section the citrus fruit over a bowl to save and include all the delicious juice. Save and include the pineapple juice, too.

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