Pomegranate, the magnificent fruit of my homeland, is often my delicious comfort through these cold and gloomy winter days. A wonderful companion since childhood, I have always been entirely, completely, madly in love with pomegranates.
When I am full (but bored) and idly craving a snack, a handful of these little red rubies, bursting with sweet and tart deliciousness always satisfy my binge eating urges. And wonderfully, instead of piling on the pounds they actually help with my weight control and reward me with plenty of nutrition.
It has been suggested that it was in fact pomegranates, and not apples, that grew in the Garden of Eden (an idea that I can wholly believe). Not only does pomegranate literally translate to “seeded apple”, but it is sometimes referred to as the Chinese apple, and is one the top 10 bible foods that heal the body and mind.
The history of the pomegranate is as fascinating as its flavour and nutritional properties.
- This fruit was one of the earliest cultivated fruits.
- Pomegranates have been prominent throughout history in art, culture, and religion, from the story of the seasons in Greek mythology, to Romeo and Juliet, to the Bible.
- Pomegranates are a symbol of hope and abundance in many cultures.
- Enjoyed for thousands of years, they’ve been found in Egyptian tombs, were reportedly eaten by Babylonian soldiers prior to battle and incorporated into Persian wedding ceremonies to symbolise a joyous future.
- Each big juicy pomegranate is said to have 613 seeds corresponding with the 613 commandments of the Torah.
Delicious pomegranate seeds are not only pretty to look, but are also bursting with essential vitamins, minerals, natural enzymes and flavonoids.
- Pomegranate is a good source of fibre. Nutritionists suggest to lose weight you can eat some pomegranate along with your food.
- It contains a very low amount of natural fat, with zero percent cholesterol.
- The fruit is moderate in calories, holding about 83 calories per 100 grams – which is slightly more than an apple.
- One pomegranate provides about 40 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin C.
- Pomegranates also contain vitamins A and E, iron and other antioxidants (notably tannins), as well as pantothenic acid (B5), which may help with muscle cramping and prevent insulin resistance.
- Pomegranates are also full of minerals including calcium, potassium, copper and manganese, that give a proper balanced nutrition for good health.
- Pomegranate juice (made from pomegranate seeds) has been shown to have antioxidant activity three times higher than red wine and green tea!
- Being packed with antioxidants, it protects your skin and strengthens your immune system.
- A study found evidence that pomegranate strengthens bones, and helps prevent osteoporosis.
- Pomegranates repair the digestive system and also help in lowering cholesterol levels, fighting cell damage and improving blood circulation in the body!
- They are thought to help prevent arthritis and have anti-inflammatory properties.
While many research studies have looked into pomegranate juice, I prefer eating the juicy delicious seeds. Not only does this give you added fibre, but it also ensures that you’re not overdoing it on fructose, which is found in high levels in all types of fruit juice.
Selection and Storage
Choose well-developed, firm, bright crimson red pomegranate. The spotted, over mature fruit can be bitter and inedible. Also, the ones with surface cracks, mould, bruised, and shrivelled are inferior in flavour.
At home, store them in cool dark place at room temperature for 5-8 days They keep well in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
Fresh pomegranate seeds are available in supermarkets. Just bear in mind that if the seeds are exposed to prolonged air or sunlight, they will loses some vitamin content.
I always prefer to buy the whole pomegranate and remove the seeds myself (it is pretty easy!). The tasty fresh seeds with their health benefits make that bit of effort well worth it:
- Wash the fruit.
- Cut off the crown, then cut the pomegranate into sections.
- Break the fruit open by detaching each segment and remove the seeds by gently peeling off the white membranes. If you find it hard to detach the membranes, simply place the fruit in a bowl of warmish water. This helps soften the pith, which will float to the top of the water and can easily be skimmed away.
- Use a colander to collect the pomegranate seeds.
The delicious seeds of pomegranate make a lovely snack, and a pretty garnish.
Sprinkle them over salads or cooked dishes to add a beautiful dash of colour and flavour. Alternately, swirl the seeds into yogurt or blend them into a smoothie for a delicious boost to your healthy snacks.
The juice has a natural sweetness and unique flavour.
Used in soups and sauces, it can add an aromatic depth of flavour. It also is amazing in desserts, and can be added to jellies and sorbets as well as to flavour cakes, baked apples and other desserts.
I like to share with you the recipe for one of my favourite pomegranate recipes:
Alternately, you can just enjoy the delicious seeds on their own, curled up on the sofa, watching some award winning television with friends or family. I know which way is my favourite.