Originally from the Middle East, primarily the Iran region and Asia, today the Pomegranate is mainly grown in India, Africa and the United States. There is evidence that Pomegranates have been in usage since the 4th millennium BC. The history is vast, from the Persians and the Greeks to the Romans and the Egyptians. Given the beauty and richness of this fruit, it has been asked, “Could this have been the forbidden apple that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden?”
Pomegranates have been used for medicinal, religious, cosmetic and culinary purposes. It has only been a few years since we have come to know this awesome fruit as a Superfood. The Pomegranate has been called the Carthaginian apple, the Chinese apple and the Granada fruit. The Pomegranate tree can live for up to 200 years and the bigger the Pomegranate the sweeter it is.
The Pomegranate travels and stores well: it can stay firm and without spoilage for an entire month. It needs to be kept in a cool dry storage area. This is why sailors and early settlers were able to spread this bountiful fruit to parts of the world. It came to the Americas after Cortez traveled to Mexico. Missionaries first cultivated the Pomegranate tree in California and it has been found in the United States since the 1700s. The Chinese believe the Pomegranate has the symbolism for longevity, immortality and abundance.
As the fruit continues to grow in popularity, more varieties are being cultivated. The fruit is spherical with a calyx on the bottom. There are approximately 800 seeds, called arils, surrounded by the juicy red purplish pulp in a Pomegranate. The skin of the Pomegranate is reddish amber and has a leathery appearance.
Most people do not like to purchase the whole fruit due to the difficult nature of extracting the seeds. I have an easy solution to this problem. Cut the Pomegranate in half through the middle, not top to bottom. Place the Pomegranate in your palm cut side down. Now beat the back of the Pomegranate with a wooden spoon. Strike it with force and the scrumptious seeds will just fall out into your palm, through your fingers into the bowl you will place beneath your hand. This will capture all the juices and the fruit and it will take less than a minute to complete. Then wash your hands so as not to stain. This works every time and you will extract every morsel. This is much better for you than purchasing extracted seeds in a container at the market…fresher, thus more nutritious! Also more economical.
The nutritional values for the Pomegranate are many. The most significant is the antioxidant power it possesses. Pomegranates have 2-3 times the antioxidants of green tea or red wine. The polyphenols and phytochemicals loaded in this fruit have an anti-inflammatory effect which can affect the cardiovascular system. As little as ¼ cup of juice per day may improve the fight against atherosclerosis. Pomegranates contain Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and potassium.
Pomegranates can be used in salads, dressings, desserts and added as a garnish to meats. Sprinkle in yogurts, add to your shakes, or just eat them as is.