The pomegranate is native from Iran to India and has been cultivated and naturalized over the whole Mediterranean region since ancient times. Pomegranates prefer a semi-arid climate with cool winters and hot summers. The fruit matures 5 to 7 months after blooming on a shrub or small tree growing 6 to 10 meters high.
The tough, leathery skin is typically yellow overlaid with pink or red. The interior is separated by membranous walls and white, spongy, bitter tissue into compartments packed with sacs filled with sweetly acid, juicy, red arils, the water-laden pulp containing the seeds.
Pomegranate arils are a good source of:
Vitamin C – helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps gums healthy; protects you from infections by keeping your immune system healthy; increases the amount of iron your body absorbs from some foods.
Vitamin K – maintains strong bones and proper blood clotting
Folate – a type of B-vitamin that helps support red blood cell formation and proper nerve function.
How to choose: Select pomegranates that are heavy for their size–they’ll be the juiciest. Don’t worry too much about the color of the rind; it can vary from completely red to reddish-brown without affecting the quality. Do look for deep color, though.
How to store: Pomegranates will last at least 3 to 4 weeks if refrigerated. Once they’ve been seeded, the seeds (arils) can be frozen in a sealed bag.
How to prepare: Score the skin in quarters and open it up. Then put each quarter under water and use your fingers to ream the arils from the inside. The pith is light and will float to the top, while the heavier seedy fruit will sink.