The Delicious Pomegranate
The pomegranate has been around for centuries and can be traced back through historical documents all the way to 4000 B.C. Originating from the Middle East and Mediterranean cultures, today pomegranates grow throughout the world from Greece to Mexico. For the United States, this fruit was introduced by the Spaniards, and it has been only in recent years that it has become wildly popular in cooking and eating as an everyday fruit.
The pomegranate tree starts with beautiful red flowers that grow to the size of an orange. The inside of the pomegranate has white fleshy pulp like an orange but instead of orange segments it has hundreds of flavorful red juicy seeds. The seeds in their casings are called arils and are the most desired part of this fruit. The pulp has a bitter taste and should be removed before eating. Pomegranates can stay fresh up to about two weeks when they are stored in a cool, dry place that has no direct sunlight. In the refrigerator, Pomegranates can be stored for up to two months. And arils can be frozen for up to one year but make sure to remove the arils from the pomegranate as the whole fruit does not freeze well.
An easy tip to remove the arils from the skin is to separate the seeds from the pulp in a bowl of water. The pulp will float leaving the seeds at the bottom of the container. Arils can leave a reddish stain on your fingers if you are not careful when peeling the exterior red skin. Egyptian women of ancient times used to use pomegranates to color their lips because it would stain them red
Pomegranates are also used to make juice and when the juice is sweetened and thickened it makes grenadine syrup for cocktails. Pomegranate juice is used in the making of wine and some types of martinis. Some believe that pomegranate juice has certain health benefits.
Pomegranates are drought tolerant and can handle modest frost. They grow well in California and other southwest states, and many farmers are finding that they grow well as a fruit crop. They can also grow as ornamental trees or shrubs for gardens. Pomegranates trees work well as a bonsai tree.
The pomegranate has also been symbolic for many religions. In China, the pomegranate is considered a symbol of fertility. In Hinduism, the pomegranate is a metaphor for a “woman’s mind”. And in Ancient Greece the pomegranate was also considered the “fruit of the dead”. Greeks believed that the pomegranate had sprung from the blood of the Greek god, Adonis.
Pomegranates work well in appetizers, soups, salads, main dishes and desserts. Being such a versatile fruit with such rich history and flavor, it is a fruit that must be tried at least once.
Here is a delicious pomegranate recipe, perfect for the weekend.