Thursday, September 24, 2009

THE REGAL POMEGRANATE

This years magnificent pomegranate crop deserves a post of its own.

This regal fruit even comes with its own crown.


This fascinating fruit has a long and interesting history. Native to Persia, the fruit was taken to China in 100BC and from there to Italy via Carthage. The latin name, Punicum malum, acknowledges Carthage (Punic) as a major center of cultivation and the granatum to the many seeds or grains in the fruit. Renaissance fabrics frequently used the appearance of the cut seeds in their design. Apart from eating the succulent fruit the Italians tanned and dried the skins to use as a type of leather.

About 800AD the Moors took the pomegranate to Spain, naming the city of Granada for the fruit.
Henry VIII was responsible for planting the first pomegranate tree in England. They must have been planted in the walled gardens or conservatories to protect them from frost.
The French named the grenade, for the many seeds and the way the explosive scatters. In 1791, the soldiers who threw these explosives were called grenadiers.
The Spanish Conquistadors brought the fruit to America but it has not gained the popularity here that is found in Mediterranean countries, Mid and Far East. An increase in demand in recent times has been due to the anti oxidant properties of the juice but the fruit continues to remain expensive in the stores.

There is no easy way to separate the seeds from the pith and rind, which is high in tannins and which would impart a bitter flavor to the juice. I have tried all the suggested methods.When we visited Turkey one Christmas, pomegranate juice was being sold by vendors everywhere. They used a sturdy juicer with a powerful ratchet mechanism. We have searched everywhere for one of these but have yet to find one we thought would stand up to this difficult fruit. In the end I cut open the fruit squeeze over a bowl and then remove the seeds with my fingers. I have done it in water but some of the juice is lost in this method. Then comes the job of getting the juice from the seeds. I have tried all methods I could think of except stomping with my feet and have finally settled on a hand held citrus squeezer I purchased in Mexico. The seeds can be eaten whole, in salads or as a garnish. They provide good roughage! After collecting the juice I let it sit for sometime to allow the clear juice to separate from the cloudy residue then drink or freeze.

A lot of work but worth every second for a glass of this delicious nectar.


6 comments:

  1. Yum! I look hungrily at every pomegranate tree I see around town. That glass of juice is making me thirsty! Great post -- I especially appreciate the history of this marvelous tree. Thank you!

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  2. The process looks messy but what a payoff! And the background information is fascinating, Rock Rose.

    Every year I hope for pomegranates but our tree never bears. On the other hand, there are two small fruits on the dwarf pomegranate that I planted just to look cute! Do you think they are edible? I don't even know how to tell when they're ripe.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  3. Looks like a lot of work but worth it! I have been intrigued by pomegranates after seeing them on Good Eats.

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  4. I can't wait to use your method to get all the goodies out of my wonderful gift! Thanks again.

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  5. I came across your blog while googling native clematis - I'm working on a planting plan for a park here in NYC and want native climbers, and then I read farther and found your pomegranates, and got sidetracked - how wonderful! My favourite fruit..your blog is lovely.

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  6. meredith- The tree really does have a fun history and was clearly revered by many
    Annie, Sweet Bay and Diana. Messy is the word but oh that juice is like nectar.
    Marie- Thanks for dropping by. Native clematis are wonderful. They only bloom in the spring but they are so lovely. Good luck with your project.

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