One half of The Salty Pear is an unbelievably neat and tidy cooker, at least compared to the other half (my finger prints cover the kitchen) and she even has a technique for cutting, cleaning and seeding a pomegranate without staining her hands. So, without further ado, this is how you clean and quarter a pomegranate.
First, you cut off the top (the nipple!) where the small opening is, being careful not to cut into the seeds (i.e. the fruit). Then, score the entire skin of the pomegranate in two perpendicular lines so the pomegranate has an X carved around its skin. Now, stick the blade of your knife a few centimeters into the flesh where the lines intersect and turn the blade like a key in a hole: the pomegranate will split open. Don't worry, the first couple times you try this, you'll get juice all over yourself and the poor pomegranate will look like bloody murder, but with a little practice and patience you'll get this down, and be showing off to friends and family.
After you've quartered the pomegranate, there are a few alternate ways to get the seeds out. The first is to bash the quarters with the back of a tablespoon or ladle, which is quick, violent and effective. But it also ruins the clean hands thing and pretty much demands that it be done over a sink. If this is your method of choice, you can work with halves instead of quarters for better grip. The alternate method, if you have the patience and don't want to stain your counter top or maybe if you're at work in the lunch room, is to gently loosen the seeds by hand. This method can also be performed under water, by filling a bowl with cold water and submerging your hands and the fruit while you pluck away.
Working on one segment at a time, peel back the thin membrane covering the seeds and softly ease and pluck the seeds from their base into a bowl. If the fruit is ripe, the seeds should slide off easily. The seeds can be enjoyed as is, as a garnish, as a salad topper, and even to cook fish with their juice's acidity, as in a ceviche. And don't worry if you run out of ideas, there will be plenty of Persian inspired pomegranate recipes to come on The Salty Pear.
Also, if you're a health nut or just plain curious, you might like to know that pomegranates are just about the healthiest and juiciest fruit out there. They're packed with antioxidants and they're an aphrodisiac known to boost men's sexual performance and stamina. So have fun and don't spill too many seeds.