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Pomegranates: Kitchen Basics


PomegranateIf you crave a fruit with a juicy sweet-tart taste and don’t mind working for it, you will surely enjoy the pomegranate.

The pomegranate is a native of Iran and is one of just a handful of fruits that warranted a mention in the Old Testament. In fact, Moses told the Israelites as they wandered in the desert that if they persevered and got to the Promised Land they would enjoy the refreshment of pomegranates.

For sure, eating a pomegranate is a labor of love.

It’s the translucent, brilliant-red pulp that surrounds the pomegranate seed that is so sparkling tasty. But pomegranate seeds—there are hundreds in each fruit—are first encased in a leathery skin and then packed into compartments that are separated by a bitter, inedible membrane. Getting to the flavor of a pomegranate requires some patient parsing and then the reward comes in snippets, seed by seed.

Pomegranates are nearly round in shape, about 2.5 to 5 inches (6.-2-12.5 cm) in diameter, almost the same size as an orange. The thin leathery skin is pink to crimson blush over yellow. The pods inside are made up of bright red kernels—each a hard seed surrounded by the pithy membrane. Munching on the seeds exudes the sweet juice but after that, you will have to decide to swallow the almost inedible seed or spit it out.


Choose. When selecting a pomegranate, look for one that is large, brightly-colored and shiny. It should be firm to the touch and heavy for its size. The skin of an overripe pomegranate might have cracks, but it may still be quite tasty. Don’t choose fruit that is shriveled or dull.

You can keep a pomegranate at room temperature for 2 to 3 weeks, and the taste may actually improve. If you store pomegranates longer, keep them in the refrigerator (for up to a month) or freeze the seeds for up to 3 months.

Serve. To enjoy pomegranate seeds out of hand-cut the fruit into quarters, turn the skin inside out and pop out the seeds. If some white pith remains, you can place the seeds in a bowl of cold water and swish them around. The seeds should sink to the bottom.

Pomegranate juice is refreshing. You can put the seeds through a juicer or ream halved fruit on an orange juice squeezer. Or simply cut a hole in the stem end, and place the fruit over a glass. The juice will run out on its own or you can squeeze it.

One fresh pomegranate contains 104 calories, 26 grams of carbohydrates and 399 mg of potassium.

Pomegranate varieties to look for include ‘Balegal’, ‘Early Wonderful’, ‘Fleshman’, ‘Green Globe’, ‘Phoenicia’, and ‘Wonderful’.

Also of interest:

How to Plant, Grow, Prune, and Harvest Pomegranates

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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