The Pomegranate – What is it?
Pomegranates are a delicious fruit with a long history–and a bright future. It is becoming more and more common to spy these unique fruits in ordinary markets, such as chain grocery stores, and with this wider distribution has come a greater interest.
Whether you’re a longtime pomegranate lover or you’re only recently giving them a try, you’ll benefit from this handy article and video on pomegranates.
Pomegranate History and Facts
Pomegranates have been cultivated for thousands of years, since at least the third millennium B.C. A tree fruit with a beautiful flowering end, they are believed to be native from the region around Iran to the northern areas of modern-day India, but the fruit quickly spread throughout the Middle East, Mediterranean and Southern Asia due to trading routes. Pomegranates eventually made their way to Europe, and European settlers in turn brought the fruit with them to North America.
The fruit features heavily in artwork—particularly in Japan and Korea—likely due to its unique and beautiful appearance, both on the tree and on its own. Pomegranates are also frequently found in mythology and religious symbolism; in the ancient Greek myth of Persephone and Hades, it is a pomegranate seed offered by Hades that dooms Persephone to live in the underworld for several months a year. Pomegranates are also a common motif in Christian artwork, such as paintings and vestments. During the Renaissance, broken pomegranates were used to symbolize the suffering and resurrection of Jesus.
Growing Location, Season and Varieties:
There are several different varieties of pomegranates grown but all are very similar and any difference would be unnoticeable. They are mainly grown in California but are also grown in other areas of the world. Their season is a short being available from California from August thru January and from March thru May where grown in the southern hemisphere.
Nutrition and Benefits:
Not all fruits were created equally–every fruit has a different nutritional value, and it can be very handy to know what you’re getting out of what you eat. A typical 100 gram serving of pomegranate will provide 15% of your daily value in Vitamin C; 16% of your daily value in Vitamin K; 10% of your daily value in folate; 18% of your daily value in dietary fiber. The dietary fiber is located exclusively in the seeds, so don’t skip them! In addition to the basic nutritional benefits of Vitamin C, K and dietary fiber, some limited studies have found that pure pomegranate juice may help lower systolic blood pressure and help reduce some of the risk favors involved in developing heart disease. A handy nutritional calculator can be found HERE
Before you can eat a pomegranate, you need to pick one! When you’re shopping for fresh fruit, consider the color and texture of the pomegranate. The skin should be deep and vibrant; the color tends to vary in different shades of reds or browns. The brighter, redder pomegranates are usually juicier but not always. Avoid pomegranates with a dull, lifeless color. The texture of the skin should be overall smooth. Withered skin, or skin with a mottled texture, should be avoided. It’s not all about appearances, however: you should pick up the fruit to get an idea of its weight. A ripe pomegranate should feel fairly heavy and not hollow or empty. You’ll want a fruit with a good amount of seeds (especially since their price isn’t always cheap!) so take care when you shop. They are sold under the PLU code of 4445 for small sizes and PLU 3127 for the larger sizes.
How do you Eat them?
You do not eat the stiff outer skin but rather you eat the arils or seeds that are within it’s tough shell. The seeds are all surrounded sacks of pomegranate juice. The trick is what is the best way to get them out of the whole pomegranate. That’s why we have made the video seen below to show you several ways of extracting them.
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