Peeling pomegranates is different from peeling the skin from apples, oranges and other types of fruit. There are three main parts that make up the structure of a pomegranate. They are the thick, leather-like skin, the white membrane and sponge-like tissue, and edible red sacs of pulp and seed called arils at the fruit's center. In order to peel pomegranates the thick skin must be cut into with a sharp knife and the fruit pulled open. Instead of peeling the skin away from the arils, the pomegranate is “peeled” by pushing the arils away from the skin and membrane.
The juice that comes from the arils of the fruit has a tendency to stain. This can be a problem for people attempting to peel pomegranates without making a mess. Submerging the pomegranate in cold water can help to prevent the juice from accidentally staining skin, clothing or other areas in the kitchen. When peeling the fruit, you can use medium to large bowl filled with cold water can be used to catch the seeds and juice. Wearing an apron is another way to reduce the likelihood of stains on clothing.
There are two main ways to cut into and peel pomegranates. The first option is to cut the fruit completely in half. Another option is to slice off the crown-like top of the pomegranate and then cut into the outer peel only. This involves cutting the pomegranate just deep enough to score the skin. You shouldn't cut so deeply that the knife reaches the arils inside, but you should score the pomegranate skin into four quarters.
If working with the two halves, place one of them into the bowl of cold water. Fully submerge the inside of the fruit, and then peel the skin back while pushing the seeds into the bowl of water and discard the skin. Place the second half of the pomegranate into the cold water and repeat.
To peel pomegranates that have been cut into quarters, place the entire fruit into the bowl. Let the fruit soak in the water for at least five minutes to make the arils easier to remove. Keep the fruit submerged and break off the skin at the cuts, one section at a time. Most of the arils will separate from the peel and membrane as the fruit is broken apart. Scoop out the seeds using your thumb if necessary or push against the peel to make the seeds drop into the water.