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The name "pomegranate" derives from Latin pomum (‘apple’) and granatus (‘seeded’). Jewish scholars believe that the pomegranate was the original “forbidden fruit” of the Garden of Eden. The pomegranate has been a prominent symbol in many religions and cultures since Biblical times, when Moses promised his followers that they would find the fruit in the Promised Land, to the 18th century, when Spanish sailors introduced it to the southern United States. Cultivated since ancient times, the pomegranate is native to the region from Iran to northern India. The pomegranate is now cultivated widely in California and Arizona for juice production.
Beneath the thick, leathery skin of a pomegranate reveals hundreds of edible seeds encased in a gelatinous sack of sweet, juicy pulp. The seeds and surrounding pulp, ranging in color from white to deep crimson, are called arils. The small edible sacks contain juice and a crunchy seed, delicious either alone, or tossed into salads.
Beneath the thick, reddish orange leathery skin of a pomegranate reveals hundreds of edible seeds encased in a gelatinous sack of sweet, juicy pulp. The seeds and surrounding pulp, ranging in color from white to deep crimson, are called arils. The small edible sacks contain juice and a crunchy seed, delicious either alone, or tossed into salads.
Pomegranate Heart Health Benefits
Fresh pomegranate juice is now available at the farmers market from Rancho Padres Farm. A staple of Middle Eastern cuisine for centuries, the pomegranate has become popular today because of its high concentration of antioxidants. According to Dr. Leo Galland, one active area of research has looked at the potential heart health benefits of the pomegranate. These studies indicate that daily consumption of pomegranate juice, about 8 ounces a day for three months or more, can help:
Reduce dangerous LDL-cholesterol in blood
Improve blood flow to the heart in patients with coronary artery disease
Reduce thickening of the arteries that supply blood to the brain
Lower the level of systolic blood pressure
Pomegranates are also high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.
How to Select a Pomegranate
Look for pomegranates that feel heavy for their size, indicating a fresh, juicy fruit. Pomegranates are picked fully ripe, so the fruit is ready to enjoy when you purchase it.
Pomegranates should have a soft, leathery skin that gives slightly when pressed; avoid fruit with shriveled or brittle skin.
Slice off the top and the bottom of the pomegranate with a sharp knife. Score as you would to peel an orange.
Submerge pomegranate in bowl of cold water and peel away rind. Break into sections, and pull seeds from the pith with your fingers. Drain seeds in a sieve and throw away the pith. Drain well.
Store pomegranates at room temperature for up to 3 weeks or refrigerate for up to 2-3 months.
Pomegranate seeds and juice can be frozen for up to 6 months.
Photo Credit: Aleksandra Mojsilovic