Pomegranates have become a favorite winter fruit, gracing salads and juice aisles across the country. The name pomegranate comes from Medieval Latin meaning “seeded apple.” The exotic fruits grow on small shrub-like trees that lose their leaves as the fruit ripens. In fall and winter, you’ll often see the twisted trunk and naked branches dotted with the large ripening fruit. Because they are drought tolerant, they are a popular crop in California and other Mediterranean climates where they thrive.
Pomegranates are native to Persia (modern day Iran) and are one of the oldest fruits. Researchers discovered part of a carbonized pomegranate from the Early Bronze Age (+/-3000 BC), pomegranates were mentioned in Mesopotamian cuneiform records (+/- 2700 BC) and a dried pomegranate was buried with Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut’s butler (+/- 1500 BC).
The little rubies that emerge from the leathery skin are actually called arils. Each surrounds an individual seed and is incredibly high in antioxidants. While the arils themselves only last a few days in the refrigerator, a whole pomegranate can be keep for weeks unopened at room temperature making them a versatile choice for holiday crafts and arrangements. After the arrangement is no longer needed, the pomegranates are often still edible.
In many cultures, pomegranates represent fertility and prosperity. In China, a picture of an open pomegranate is often gifted at weddings with the sentiment that the new couple will have as many children as there are seeds. As part of a wedding ceremony in Turkey, the bride throws a pomegranate on the ground and as many seeds fall out is said to indicate how many children the new couple will have.
Artisan Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar in our shop!
Looking for a pro tip for an easy way to get to the fruits? First cut the pomegranate into sections. In a bowl of water, break each section to remove the fruits. The fruit will sink and the bitter, white pulp will float, making it easier to separate. Also, using the bowl of water keeps the inadvertent squirt of pomegranate juice contained. The individual seeds will keep in the fridge for about 3 days.
If you’re interested in incorporating pomegranates into your diet, consider sprinkling them onto salads. Adding a little goat cheese balances the acidity in a lovely way. This time of year we also love to make a dish of quinoa, chopped celery, chopped cilantro, pomegranate seeds and a light lemon and olive oil dressing.