In Season: Pomegranates

One of the oldest fruits, the nutrient-rich pomegranate is packed with antioxidants and has been shown to benefit blood vessels and overall heart health. The fruit originated in Persia but is now grown worldwide, generally in warm, somewhat arid climates.

Not all pomegranates are grown for food; some varieties are ornamental only and are grown for their flowers. There is even a dwarf variety that can be grown as a bonsai specimen. Pomegranates grow readily from seed but are usually grown from cuttings to avoid genetic variations.

The pomegranate has a tough outer skin with clumps of seeds inside. The seeds are eaten raw, either alone or in salads, soups, or other dishes. Pomegranates are a good source of vitamins C and K, and an excellent source of fiber. When consumed as juice, pomegranates are a better source of antioxidants than blueberries, red wine, and green tea.

Pomegranates are in season from roughly September through February in the Northern Hemisphere, and from March to May in the Southern Hemisphere. When choosing pomegranates, pick those with deep color whose skin gives lightly to pressure. They should feel slightly heavy, the weight indicating juiciness. Pomegranates don’t really ripen much once they’re harvested. Avoid pomegranates with dry, wrinkly skin, as well as those with cracks in the rind, as that can be a sign of over-maturity.

To seed a pomegranate, cut off the crown, or blossom end, but try not to cut the seeds within. Score the rind in quarters from end to end, and then soak the scored pomegranate in a bowl of cool water for about five minutes. While keeping the fruit immersed, break sections apart with your fingers. The seeds will separate from the pith and fall to the bottom of the bowl. Use your fingers to gently separate any embedded seeds from the pith, then discard the pith and rind. Drain the seeds and dry them gently. Then enjoy!

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.