How long have villagers in Hatay province, southeastern Turkey, been transforming pomegranates into the sticky sweet-sour heavenly nectar nar eksili, known in English as pomegranate molasses? I don't know, and they don't either, but it's a fascinating process to witness.
That's all I can say about it here, because we were in Hatay on assignment. But I can't let pomegranate season (in the United States, at least) pass without sharing the village women's technique for seeding the notoriously hard-to-seed fruit. It's easy and fast and works brilliantly.
(Pomegranate stains, so wear an apron!)
Cut a pomegranate in half horizontally. Holding one half in your palm, cut end out, squeeze gently enough to avoid wholesale juicing but firmly enough to loosen the seeds -- do this over a large bowl set in the sink. As you squeeze, rotate the fruit (actually, it's technically a berry) with your other hand.
Now turn the pomegranate half upside down, so the cut end is facing your palm. Hold your hand and the fruit over the bowl and tap it firmly (you really do need a firm hand here, so don't be afraid to whack -- just don't break the skin) all over with anything tubular -- a thin rolling pin, the handle of a wooden or other spoon, etc. -- letting the seeds fall through your fingers into the bowl. While you're tapping rotate the fruit in your palm to expose all the seeds to the tap pressure.
When you're finished have a look to see if you've gotten all the seeds -- if not just tap some more. You'll end up with a little juice and a lot of seeds, which you'll want to sift through to remove any bitter pomegranate membrane. It will be in fairly big pieces, so this isn't a major hassle.
Do this a few times and you'll be a master, able to capture the pomegranate membrane in your fingers before it falls into the bowl and seed on average 1 pomegranate every 2 minutes. Do it long enough and your hands will begin to turn black (don't worry, it washes off eventually).
Want to make it easier on yourself? Use fresh pomegranates -- they should be plump and heavy, the skins firm, not dry and shriveled.