Pomegranates have earned a reputation as a nutritious powerhouse, but they are not the easiest fruit for seeds or preparation.
The pomegranate reminds me of cherry or cranberry, with a taste of pungency combined with a sweet undertone. They literally burst with flavor.
But to fully enjoy these unique treats, you need to know the best seeds and how to prepare them. If you cannot eat all of them, it is important to know how to store them. Ready to learn more?
A Bit About Pomegranate
Pomegranate is one of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world. Thought to have originated in Persia, they had taken over the Mediterranean Sea, Africa, Afghanistan and China, gaining popularity along the way.
Introduced in California by Spanish missionaries in 1769, they now produce 90 percent of the United States pomegranate.
Pomegranate is medieval Latin, meaning apple of many grains. If you are familiar with pomegranate, you will know that it is a perfect description of this wonderfully delicious, juicy fruit.
Talking about grains, those small juicy pieces inside the fruit are known as arteries. There is a seed inside each aril. The dry, off-white bit inside the fruit that holds the artery is known as the membrane.
Different varieties of pomegranate may have short or thick membranes, and may be large and juicy with a small seed, or they may be small with a large seed.
There are many varieties of pomegranates that you can grow or find at your local grocery store, although you harvest and store them all.
‘Sweet’ is my favorite variety because it is sweet, as the name suggests. The skin is pink or light red, preceded by a beautiful copper-red flower.
‘Grenada’ is medium in size with dark crimson skin. The arteries are sweet and juicy without being overly syrupy. It is one of the most common commercial pomegranate varieties grown in California.
‘Early Wonderful’ is red-skinned and large, it may be slightly spicy. ‘Balegal’ is a skin with large fruit which is about four inches in diameter. It has a lovely, sweet taste.
‘Crab’ has medium to large fruits which can be a good balance of sweet and pungent taste. The skin is bronze, and the arteries are dark red.
‘Utah Sweet’, also known as ‘Dixie Sweet’, produces beautiful pink flowers. The fruit is sweet, and the seeds are quite soft.
If you want to know more about growing pomegranate, check out our growing guide.
Pomegranate harvesting and picking
If you have your own pomegranate tree (or have access to one), then you need to know how to cut your fruits before you can seed them.
Choose pomegranate when it is completely red and slightly soft to the touch. It takes about six to seven months for the flowers to arrive until you have time to pick the fruit, so be patient.
Pomegranate can cause skin rash when ripened. Check your tree frequently and pull out any broken fruit. Eat those immediately because they do not store well.
Pomegranates are not separated from the tree as some other fruits do, so you want to wait until they are fully ripe to pull them.
Cut the pomegranate using a pair of clipping instead of pulling or twisting it. Cut close to the branch, so the whole stem comes with fruit.
If you are getting your fruit at the grocery store, then you need to know what to look for.
Fruits with wrinkled skin are drying out inside. Avoid them. Choose a pomegranate that is thick and feels heavy in your hand. It should give little, but not be soft or soulful.
Brown spots may indicate aging or it may be a rash. Avoid them too.
To obtain pomegranate seeds
Once you get them off the tree or buy a bunch at the grocery store or market, it’s time for the real challenge: how do you plant pomegranate seeds ?!
The first way is a mess, but snacking on fruit instead of popcorn or chips is a fun way to watch movies.
Make a small pinch in the stem of the fruit and keep the fruits separate. It exposes the inside segments.
The fruit naturally separates into the segments between the membranes.
Take out the seeds individually and put them in your mouth at once.
You need to continue peeling and pulling as you go, and you will probably squeeze the juice on the way and there too, so keep a damp towel to wipe your hands.
Like I said, it’s a mess, but it’s a great snacking option.
The second method is more common. Just slice the fruit out in half or quarter. Then, gently tease them with your hands and into a bowl.
You can also place one half on a bowl filled with water and wrap the back of the fruit with a wooden spoon until all the seeds have fallen. You probably won’t get everything out, but most of the coils will collapse.
Then, with a slotted spoon stop the stuff on top of the water, where the membrane and other waste will float. Add water and let the artery dry.
The problem with this method is that you end up slicing through some pomegranate seeds, so it is useless (but quick). You also mess a little with flying seeds and juices everywhere.
Also, if you are good and ripe, you cut the seeds.
Finally, there are professionals using the method.
Slice the top of the fruit using a sharp knife. When looking down the fruit, you will see that the membrane forms six small segments inside the fruit. Score the skin at the point of each membrane.
The goal is to cut through the skin and into the membrane, but not through the fruit.
Take out each section and peel off any remaining membrane. Sometimes it is easy to pull the fruit in half and then divide it further.
Roll out each section inside a bowl, push the center of each section out and pull the ends towards you. Some seeds will fall out, but you have to encourage others by rubbing them.
When you are done, you will have a magnificent bowl full of small red gems ready to eat.
Whichever method you choose, remember that pomegranate juice will stain. Do not place your pomegranate anywhere on carpet, rugs, or wear clothes that you do not want to risk getting stained.
Intake of pomegranate
Now for the best part! After picking and seeding your pomegranate, it is time to dig into it.
Obviously, you can eat the seeds raw. Many people also like to add them to yogurt, ice cream, salads, or desserts.
But don’t be afraid to get creative. Pomegranate seeds are perfect for savory dishes. Toss them with Brussels sprouts in olive oil and bake in the oven.
They are incredibly paired as toppings on pizza or flatbread. Next time you make a lamb dish, top it with some pomegranate seeds. Both complement each other.
If it is such a juice, after which you put all the seeds in a zip-top bag and release a rolling pin or pound all the juice with a meat tenderizer.
Drain out the remaining seeds through a sieve.
If you have an unabrased, anarkali pomegranate, you can slice it in half and also squeeze it into the skins of one hand.
For a fruit, pomegranates store a good long time after harvest. They are similar to the storage capacity of apples.
As a bonus, the fruits become juicy in storage, although you do not want to wait too long.
Given a constant temperature between 32–41 ° F and low humidity, keep them in the fridge or cold storage for seven months. If the temps fluctuate (as you do to open and close the fridge), expect them to be close to three months.
For areas whose humidity is high, they will store for one or two months.
Once the skin turns brown or wrinkled, it’s time to eat them!
If you have seeded your fruits, it is stored in the refrigerator for a week. You can also freeze them for up to a year.
To freeze, place them in a zip-top bag and pressurize all the air. Then, place them in the freezer where they do not harden.
You can store the juice in the refrigerator for five days.
Do not store juice or extracts in metal containers. The fruit is acidic and it will react to the metal.
Idea Source: morningchores.com