Sweet seeds

Bright red pomegranates are perfect for a fall salad
SARA SCHNEIDER and JERRY ANNE DI VECCHIO

Pomegranate and Beet Salad

That apple Eve succumbed to in the Garden of Eden might really have been a pomegranate, according to some scholars. If so, she would have been the last person on earth to have broken into one of these without fear of staining her clothes. (My mom's approach was to make me sit in the bathtub.)

Lately, however, I've spotted crunchy, juicy, sweet-tart pomegranate seeds in markets, already extracted from their leathery skins. The dangerous work is done. All that's left is to eat them out of hand, stir them into batter for baked goods, sprinkle them over tarts and cheesecakes, and mix them into beautiful salads like this one.

Your body will thank you: A single pomegranate contains 40 percent of the vitamin C an adult needs in a day. And some studies show that the juice is higher in antioxidants than red wine or green tea. Even if you can't find extracted pomegranate seeds, it's worth the effort to start from scratch. See "Easy Picking," below, for a simple way to pop out the seeds.

Easy picking

Underneath that thick skin, pomegranate seeds are bound by a maze of membranes that are tedious to pull apart. Here's an old trick for getting them out: Cut the pomegranate in half, then cut four slits, 3/4 to 1 inch long, into the outer rim of each half. Hold one half, seeds down, over a deep bowl and pull the fruit open but not completely apart. Then place the half, seeds down, in the palm of one hand, with your fingers slightly apart, and whack the top of the fruit with the back of a large spoon. The seeds will fall out through your fingers. Repeat with the other half.