The pomegranate is one of the oldest fruits as well as the richest in history and folklore. Once you get past the multitude of seeds, its juice is tangy, sweet, rich and flavorful. This juice becomes the base for sauces and flavorings for drinks, savory dishes, and sweets, while the whole seeds are a simple delight eaten fresh or used as a colorful accent as a garnish. The fruit is about the size of an orange. The rind color can range from yellow-orange to deep reddish-purple.
What's in the Name?
Punicum granatum is the pomegranate's botanical name, with Punicum recognizing Carthage as a focal point for pomegranate cultivation and granatum referring to the many seeds or grains in the fruit. Latin name, Punicum malum.
Other common names:
Pomegranate, punic apple, granatapfel, granada, grenade, melograno, melagrana
Early fall is prime time for pomegranates, October and November in the northern hemisphere, but they are usually available into early winter.
Pomegranate Varieties and Forms
There are many varieties of pomegranate with colors ranging from yellow-orange to deep reddish-purple. Forms include fresh pomegranate fruit, pomegranate juice, pomegranate syrup, and pomegranate molasses.
Fruits should be plump and round, heavy for their size, with a rich, fresh color and should be free of cuts and blemishes. Larger fruits promise more juice. Pomegranates are not a fruit that will ripen once picked, so once harvested, they will not continue to develop sugar.
Whole fruits can be stored for a month in a cool, dry area or refrigerated up to two months. The seed pips can be frozen in an airtight bag up to one year. Fresh juice should be refrigerated and used within two to three days.
Fun Pomegranate Facts
Every pomegranate is composed of exactly 840 seeds, each surrounded by a sac of sweet-tart juice contained by a thin skin. The seeds are compacted in a layer resembling honeycomb around the core. The layers of seeds are separated by paper-thin white membranes which are bitter to the tongue. The inner membranes and rind are not generally eaten due to high tannic acid content, but they are useful as a skin wash.