The Romance of the Pomegranate

Break open a pomegranate and you will be rewarded with hundreds of mouth-watering, delectable seeds encased in a yummy translucent flesh. Popular around the world, pomegranates can be served fresh and eaten raw, made into a juice, or incorporated into another dish.

The pomegranate is the most mysterious and romantic of fruits. It dates to early Greek mythology, the name pomegranate coming from the Latin pomum, “apple”, and granatus, “seeded”. The fruit is native to the near, middle, and far east. Visitors to certain areas of east will have the pleasure of seeing wild pomegranate groves growing outside established towns.

Choosing the Best

The best pomegranates are round and plump. To check for freshness, lift the fruit and check to see if it is solid and heavy. Fruit that is too ripe will begin to feel hollow.

Storage

It is best to store whole, fresh poms in the refrigerator. The fruit will last for up to two months in the refrigerator. They can be stored outside the fridge in a cool, dark area that is always dry. They will keep for about one month in this environment.

Preparing and Cooking

Opening a pomegranate is pure joy for anyone who has ever tasted the delicious fruit. Score the outside of the fruit with a knife to make it easier to break open the fruit. Once opened, the seeds, (specifically the seed casings or arils), separate from the peel and pulp. To aid in the process the pomegranate should be opened in a bowl of water. The seeds will sink and the pulp will float!

The pomegranate seed is best eaten raw. The entire seed is consumed but the real trophy is the aril or the seed casing which has the most flavor. Grenadine is popular syrup that is frequently thickened using pom juice. It is an ingredient in many cocktails and Iranian dishes. A fesenjan is a thick and tasty sauce made from pomegranate juice and walnuts. Ash – e anar is a very popular pomegranate soup in Iran.
Pomegranate seeds add spice and flavor to dishes. Dried arils can be found in open-air markets through India. They are an important part of many types of chutney. In Greece, poms are added to fresh salads.

Nutrition Highlights

Pomegranates are high in antioxidants. The juice of the arils provides up to 16 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Arils are also a source of vitamin B, potassium, and polyphenols. Poms are high in dietary fiber that is found only in the seeds.

One serving of arils equals 3.5 ounces:

  • Carbohydrates – 17.17 g
  • Sugars -16.57 g
  • Dietary Fibers – .6 g
  • Vitamin C: 10% RDA
  • Potassium: 6% RDA

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