Dear Barbara: Do you have an easy way to get the seeds out of a pomegranate? I make a mess, and my kids are even worse. I can’t begin to tell you how many towels and clothing are permanently stained by our pomegranate methods.
— LeAnn from Galt
Dear LeAnn: There are many ways to remove the seeds from pomegranates; most of them bad!
One way that is used frequently is to cut the pomegranate in half horizontally. Hold one of the halves over a bowl and solidly hit the pomegranate on the outside of the hull with a wooden spoon or meat mallet. Keep beating until all of the seeds fall into the bowl and repeat with the other half. Good luck getting the stains off your hands.
To me, the preferred way would be to get a large bowl of cool water, score the fruit from top to bottom in four places, but just through the skin. Holding the fruit under water, break it apart and gently push the seeds away from the hull. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the pith will float. You can then scoop the pith off the top of the water and strain the rest. You will be left with the gleaming little jewels of seeds without staining you or your clothes. Enjoy!
Dear Barbara: I went to buy a butternut squash the other day and they all looked so small to me. Which are better, the big squash or the small ones?
— Shane from Lodi
Dear Shane: I don’t know how small they were, but usually the “small” ones that I have seen are about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds. Actually, that is an ideal size. If you need more servings, it would be best to buy two of the smaller squash than one very large squash. When they get too big, the squash contains more water and gets very fibrous. I also think that the smaller squash are much easier to handle and easier to seed.
Dear Barbara: I was intrigued by your kale crisp response in your last column. I did buy the kale and went by what you said; even though you didn’t give the temperature for the oven. It did crisp up, and it didn’t look burnt, but it tasted very bitter. Maybe I had better stick with my potato chips.
— Abbey from Lodi
Dear Abbey: Don’t give up yet! I made some this past week and they were great. It sounds as if you may have baked them too long. I had to experiment a little, and tried the kale that isn’t so curly, but they came out great. Try 300 degrees for 15 minutes. You may want to check them after 10 minutes or so. So easy and fun to make! I think I would like to try other greens as well; maybe chard and definitely escarole and spinach. You could also experiment with different salts; such as smoked salt or Hawaiian salt. I used Fleur de Sel, but you could also add a little spice to them before baking. Maybe a few red pepper flakes with the salt and oil. I did cut back on the oil. The recipe I found on the internet said one tablespoon of good olive oil. It’s a personal preference, but I used about half the oil to a whole head of kale and it was plenty.
Also, be sure to put them on parchment paper on cookie sheets. It will take two cookie sheets. When they come out of the oven, just slide the paper, kale and all, onto the counter or cooling rack and voila, no clean up!
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at email@example.com.