Pomegranates are a nutritious and delicious fruit that can be enjoyed in many ways. One popular use is juicing pomegranates to make a tart, antioxidant-rich drink. But before tossing pomegranates into your juicer, an important question arises – do you need to peel them first? There are pros and cons to peeling pomegranates before juicing, and the answer depends on your specific needs and preferences. In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at the peeling debate and provide tips for getting the most juice and nutrients out of your pomegranates.
Pros and Cons of Peeling Before Juicing
Here is an overview of the potential benefits and drawbacks of peeling pomegranates before juicing:
- Removes bitter white pith – The white membrane surrounding the arils contains tannins that can add bitterness to juice.
- Reduces mess – Peeling minimizes exploding arils and pulp flying when juicing.
- Maximizes yield – Access to only arils maximizes the amount of juice extracted.
- Sweeter flavor – The juice may taste sweeter without the pith’s bitterness.
- Time consuming – Peeling all the arils is labor intensive and takes practice.
- Nutrient loss – The pith contains beneficial plant compounds that are discarded when peeled.
- Oxidation – Exposed arils may brown faster than intact membranes.
- Difficult separation – Wet arils can still stick to membranes during peeling.
As you can see, there are compelling arguments on both sides. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons with your own needs and preferences in mind.
Nutritional Comparison of Juice With and Without Peels
To dig deeper into the nutrition of peeled vs. unpeeled pomegranate juice, let’s compare some of the numbers:
|Nutrient||Juice with Peels||Juice without Peels|
|Total polyphenols||1910 mg/L||1810 mg/L|
|Anthocyanins||140 mg/L||110 mg/L|
|Vitamin C||21 mg/100g||18 mg/100g|
|Antioxidant activity||93 mmol/L||89 mmol/L|
As the data shows, juice containing the pomegranate peels generally has higher levels of beneficial plant compounds like polyphenols, anthocyanins, and vitamin C. However, the difference is relatively minor. This suggests the nutritional trade-off of peeling vs. not peeling may not be that significant in the end.
Getting the Most Juice From Pomegranates
Regardless of whether you peel or don’t peel, here are some tips for maximizing the amount of juice you get from pomegranates:
Pick ripe, hydrated fruit
Pomegranates should feel heavy for their size with tight, leathery skin. Greener peels indicate underripe fruit with less juice.
Soften in hot water
Briefly soaking whole pomegranates in hot water softens the membranes and makes it easier to extract juice.
Roll and press
Gently rolling pomegranates on a hard surface before pressing helps separate seeds and weaken membranes.
Add filtered water
Adding a small amount of filtered water to your juicer can help extract more juice from the fruit.
Avoid aril oxidation
Exposed pomegranate arils and juice will oxidize faster. Use juice right away or store in an airtight container.
Use a masticating juicer
Masticating juicers efficiently crush pomegranates while minimizing oxidation compared to centrifugal juicers.
Pour juice through a fine mesh strainer or nut milk bag to separate out any pulp or debris.
Peeling Pomegranates by Hand
If you opt to peel your pomegranates, doing it properly is key. Here are some tips for the most efficient hand peeling:
Cut off the crown
Trim the very top off the pomegranate, right below the stem. This helps split it evenly later.
Score the rind
Lightly cut into the pomegranate rind from top to bottom in about six sections. Don’t cut too deep.
Submerge in water
Place scored pomegranate in a large bowl of water, split side down. The seeds will sink and peel will float.
Break apart and peel
Gently break open sections under water. Peel away the white pith to release only the juicy arils.
Remove peel and membranes
Discard all peel, pith, and membranes. The arils are ready for juicing or eating.
Watch for staining
Pomegranate juice can easily stain hands, clothes, and surfaces. Wear an apron and have wipes handy.
It takes practice to master clean peeling by hand, but it gets quicker with experience. Unpeeled pomegranates are always an easier, faster option.
Juicing Pomegranates Without Peeling
Juicing pomegranates without peeling is simpler, but still requires some technique:
Cut off the top and bottom
Trim both ends, exposing the chambers of arils inside. This allows you to see what you’re juicing.
Cut in half
Stand the pomegranate upright and cut in half from top to bottom. Again, do this under water to contain the juice.
Remove bigger pieces of white pith
Pull or cut off the largest chunks of white pith you can without losing arils. Some pith is okay.
Add halves to your juicer
Turn on your juicer and gently press the pomegranate halves down on the reamer. Don’t press too hard.
Alternate interior and exterior
Rotate the exterior rind over the reamer, then switch to the interior. This extracts all the juice.
Strain the juice
Pour through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove any stringy pulp or pith. Enjoy!
Leaving the membranes intact takes just minutes and still produces an amazing pomegranate juice full of nutrients.
Making Pomegranate Juice With a Blender
While juicers are ideal for separating pomegranate pulp and fiber, you can also use a powerful blender:
Remove crown, score rind, and break into sections under water, discarding peel and white pith.
Add arils and liquid to blender
Place just the ruby red arils into the blender along with 2-3 Tbsp of water or juice.
Blend on high speed
Blend on high for 1-2 minutes until completely pulverized into juice. Little bits of seed are fine.
Strain the juice
Pour through a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Press out liquid.
Drink the juice right away or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days.
With some trial and error, blenders can also release the natural sweetness and nutrition of pomegranates into drinkable form.
Storing and Preserving Pomegranate Juice
Like all fresh juices, pomegranate juice is perishable and best enjoyed soon after making:
|Storage Method||Shelf Life|
To maximize freshness and nutrients, store pomegranate juice in airtight containers and minimize exposure to heat, air, and light. Freezing in ice cube trays or jars also retains more flavor. Canning prepared juice in sanitized jars is ideal for longer shelf life.
Potential Uses for Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate juice offers a tart, antioxidant-rich addition to many foods and beverages:
- Smoothies – Adds flavor and nutrition to fruit or vegetable smoothies
- Marinades – Brings a tangy sweetness to meat or poultry
- Dressings and sauces – Brightens up salads, grains, yogurt, or desserts
- Cocktails – Makes a gorgeous, fresh addition to champagne or vodka drinks
- Mocktails – Creates a fun, non-alcoholic mixer for parties
- Sorbets and popsicles – Provides natural sweetness and beautiful color
The uses for freshly squeezed pomegranate juice are endless. Get creative with this flavorful, radiant red juice.
Potential Health Benefits
What makes pomegranate juice so special? These potent health benefits:
- Packed with antioxidants – Pomegranate juice contains three times more antioxidants than green tea or red wine.
- Anti-inflammatory – The antioxidants help reduce systemic inflammation in the body, a risk factor for many diseases.
- May protect heart health – Some studies link pomegranate juice to reduced blood pressure and healthier cholesterol levels.
- Anti-cancer properties – Test tube research indicates pomegranate extracts may slow cancer cell reproduction and even induce apoptosis.
- May improve memory – Animal research suggests pomegranate juice may help improve age-related memory deficits.
- Aids digestion and gut health – Pomegranates contain prebiotic fiber that feeds healthy probiotic bacteria.
More human research is still needed. But the science indicates potent health benefits associated with pomegranate juice.
Potential Downsides to Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate juice provides nutrition along with some possible drawbacks:
- High in natural sugar – Pomegranates contain around 10g of sugar per 100g, so juice is high in fructose.
- Interactions with medications – The antioxidants may interact with antibiotics, blood thinners, blood pressure drugs, and NSAIDs.
- Allergies – Some people are allergic to pomegranates and experience symptoms like itching, swelling, and anaphylaxis.
- Dental erosion – Pomegranate juice is very acidic (pH around 2.5) and can degrade tooth enamel over time.
Enjoy pomegranate juice in moderation, watch for allergies, and rinse your mouth after drinking juice to minimize dental effects. Consult your doctor about potential medication interactions.
The Bottom Line
So back to our original question – should you peel pomegranates before juicing them or not? After weighing all the factors, here are some final guidelines:
- If you have time and want maximum yield and sweetness, peeling is best.
- If you want easier prep and more nutrients, don’t peel.
- Blending and juicing whole pomegranates with minimal peeling is a good compromise.
- Your juicer style (centrifugal vs. masticating) also impacts results.
- Straining well produces a smooth, clean juice regardless of peeling.
Test out juicing both peeled arils and whole pomegranates to see what works best for your needs. Both methods result in a refreshing, ruby red juice loaded with antioxidants and unique flavor. Whether you peel or not, pomegranate juice is a nutritious and delicious addition to any diet.