grenade (French), Granatapfel (German), melagrana (Italian), granada (Spanish/Philippines), roma (Portuguese), grenada (Basque), granaatappel (Dutch), granatæble (Danish), granat (Norwegian), granatäppelträd/granatäpple (Swedish), granaattiomena (Finnish), granat (Russian), owoc granatu (Polish), zranata/sipak/jabuka (Serbo-Croat), rodie (Romanian), nar (Bulgarian/Turkish), ródi (Greek), rimon (Hebrew), rumman (Arabic), anar Persian/Afghanistan/Hindi), dalim (Bengali), mathalam pazham (Tamil), tha-le (Burmese), thap thi (Thai), delima (Malay/Indonesian), shi liu (Chinese), zakuro (Japanese), roma/romeira (Brazil)
Pomegranates are thought to have originated in Iran, but became quite common in Mediterranean Regions, the Middle East, Israel, and Asia, causing many to suppose they originated there instead.
Punica granatum, was derived from the name “pomuni granatum” (seeded apple), given to the fruit in the Middle Ages. The Romans called it “mala punica” (Carthaginian apple). From there came the generic name Punica and the designated species name of granatum. The Spanish “granada” and other names all refer to the many grains or seeds within the fruit.
Since time began, the pomegranate has been linked to many cultures and their religions, and, because of its many seeds, has been a symbol of fertility since ancient times. Even Moses made the stipulation that the pomegranate be part of the hems on the robes of the Levitical priests. (See here)
Until the Renaissance in Europe, pomegranates were used mainly for medicinal purposes, although they have always figured prominently in the cooking of Middle Eastern countries. The bark of the tree and the roots have long been used as a remedy for diarrhea.
Another interesting find is by researchers in Nottinham University in England, who, in 1996, discovered that pomegranante extracts can kill viruses, including HIV. They are now looking into ways to market this research, including the use of a pomegranate-based chemical to coat condoms.
Pomegranates are the fruit of a small tree
which still grows wild in many countries. These evergreen, or deciduous, trees (depending on the climate), are very long-lived, with some having existed for over 200 years.
The trees do not grow true from seed, so good varieties are propagated by cuttings. The pomegranate tree will grow up to about twenty feet in height in a wide range of conditions; but, like most trees,they prefer deep well-drained soils.
They can survive in poorer soils, but the quality of the fruit will be poorer. When dormant, the trees can withstand very cold temperatures; but they become very sensitive to frost, especially in early spring when the buds begin to swell.
The most favoured areas are those with cold winters (to help fruit set) and hot dry summers (to help fruit mature). After five to six years, the trees start to produce fruit. Their large, orange-red flowers
are quite attractive. Pomegranates can be grown in dry conditions; but irrigation is recommended to envigorate the trees into producing good yields, which are considered to be about 100 pounds of fruit per tree.
The fruit is now widely cultivated from France, Spain, Asia, and Israel to both North and South America. Spanish sailors and missionaries took the pomegranate from the Mediterranean region to America soon after Cortez conquered Mexico in 1521.
It was a useful fruit on voyages as the hard skin helped keep the fruit fresh longer. As the Spanish missions moved north into California, so did the fruits grown by the padres.
The pomegranate can now be found growing from the southern United States to Chile and Argentina, probably reaching its highest quality in the arid regions of California, Arizona, and northern Mexico. In many places, it is grown more for ornamental value than for its fruit.
A serious pest to the pomegranate orchards of central California is the omnivorous leafroller (Platynola stultana). The larvae of this insect are first observed in June and July in the tops of trees, nesting in shoot terminals. As fruit begins to ripen, larvae enter into protected locations; under leaves, near the stem, or where two fruits are touching.
They also cause channels to appear in the rind of the developing fruit. After entering the fruit, they feed on kernels and pulp at the entry point, which causes the fruit to rot at this location. Control is difficult because the larvae plaster leaves together or themselves to the fruit, and are thus well protected.
The fruits also must be picked before over maturity when they tend to crack open, especially if rained on. Pomegranates improve in storage, becoming juicier and more flavorful.
Pomegranates are an attractive, apple-shaped fruit that has a reddish-gold leathery skin with a large calyx or crown on one end. Inside is a mass of creamy white edible seeds, each encased in a translucent sac of deep pink or crimson pulp and held together by segments of bitter inedible yellow membrane that extends outward to the skin.
Pomegranates from wild trees contain a high percentage of seeds and membranes. Their scanty pulp is often sour and astringent, but even these have found a use in an Indian condiment called “anardana” or in Middle Eastern condiments and garnishes.
By contrast, cultivated pomegranates have plenty of juicy pulp with a sweet, sharp flavour, which is only slightly astringent. In the east, there are now some varieties that are almost free of seeds or have soft seeds, as those found in the cultivar Bedana in India.
In general, there seems to be no seedless varieties grown in western countries, although types with soft seeds are often classed as “seedless”.
Pomegranates are low in sodium and calories, about twenty calories per ounce. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and B.
Pomegranates are generally chosen for size; the larger the fruit, the sweeter it will be. In choosing one, pick one that has a glossy sheen to the skin and also seems heavy for its size, as it will have more juice.
The fruits are ripe when they have developed a distinctive color and make a metallic sound when tapped. They are best when eaten at room temperature, but can be refrigerated to prolong the shelf life.
There are many types of pomegranates cultivated around the world. One of the most popular in North America is called Wonderful,
which is the best one chosen for juicing. The Early Wonderful is better for eating out of hand.
Green Globe has green skin and an excellent quality. Granada is less tart than Wonderful and ripens earlier.
is pink inside and out, with soft seeds and a very sweet flavour.
Eating a pomegranate is actually hard work. There are two ways to go about it – the messy way and the neat way.
The messy way is to pull the seeds out and crush them with your teeth to obtain the juice. The crushed seeds are then spit out; but, since the juice stains badly, you risk staining everything around you.
The neat way is to put the seeds through a strainer, collect the juice, and discard the seeds. The seeds are completely edible, but many choose not to eat them.
Both the juice and the seeds can be frozen for later use in a variety of foods or beverages. Juice can also be extracted by squeezing kernels in a cloth bag or by cutting fruit in half and using an orange sqeezer.
Large extractors, similar to grape crushers, are used for greater amounts of juice. Citrus fruit sections and slices of apples or pears marinated in pomegranate juice are attractive in salads and fruit cocktail.