Ten tips on pomegranates

There is renewed interest in pomegranates because of their history, nutritional value and uniqueness.

Pomegranates are a native fruit of southeastern Europe and Asia and grown in ancient Egypt, Babylon, India, and Iran. Cultured in Spain it is believed pomegranates moved with missionaries into Mexico and California in the 16th century.

Pomegranate in Latin means apple with many seeds. Pomegranates are an old fruit steeped in tradition from the past. They are mentioned in the Bible in Exodus 39:25 where images of pomegranates were woven into the hem of the robe worn by the Hebrew High Priest. The fruit is on the two pillars which stood in front of the temple King Solomon built in Jerusalem (1 Kings 7:13-22). Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol of righteousness because it is said to have 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 commandments of the Torah.

Even though the pomegranate is an ancient symbol it has been renewed in today’s culture because of its beauty, history and because of its healthy, antioxidant qualities. Today we have pomegranates on in our local supermarkets and are available from September to January, when they are harvested.

Michigan State University Extension has these 10 tips regarding pomegranates:

  1. They should be stored at room temperature in a place that is dry and well-ventilated.
  2. Both the seeds and the juicy, clear flesh covering the seeds are edible.
  3. The flesh covered seeds can be used as a garnish in fruit cups, salads, desserts and as a snack.
  4. The juice is used to make jellies, puddings, desserts and drinks.
  5. Wear an apron when handling pomegranates. They tend to spurt and the deep red stain is difficult to remove.
  6. Pomegranate juice can darken if it comes in contact with metal, so use plastic or glass utensils.
  7. When you need a lot of seeds, remove the top by cutting the pomegranate in half, then place it cut face down and rap the shell with a hammer handle. This also breaks the section walls and opens the juice sacs.
  8. One large pomegranate makes between one-fourth and one-half cup of juice.
  9. Fresh seeds or juice will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  10. Freezing the juice is recommended because juice will hold its flavor and color better than if it is canned. Canned juice may turn brown and lose flavor.

One extra tip: Half a medium pomegranate is 82 percent water and only about 50 calories. It is an excellent source of potassium, high in antioxidants and is very low in sodium. If you haven’t tried one before pick one up at the supermarket and you will be pleasantly surprised with this ancient nutritious fruit.

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