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Pomegranate
 

The pomegranate tree is a deciduous tree, which bears fruits and grows to an average height of 5–8 meters. The tree originally belongs to the regions of pakistan, Afganistan and Iran. The tree has been cultivated since time immemorial in the Mediterranean regions including Algeria, India, Turkey, Iran and also in some parts of South East Asia, Tropical Africa, peninsular Malaysia, etc. It is available in the months from September to January in the Northern Hemisphere and and from March to May in the Southern Hemisphere.  

The leaves of the tree are oblong and narrow and have a glossy texture. They are about 3-7 cms in length and are 2 cms broad. The fruit has a peculiar hexagonal shape with a thick red skin and around 600 seeds. The seeds of the fruit range in colour from white to deep red. There are also some varieties available in the market, which have a purple pulp colour. Pomegranate trees are drought tolerant and may be grown in dry areas as well. The tree is susceptible to root decay from fungal diseases in wetter regions. They are also tolerant to moderate frost, and can survive in a temperature of about 10o C.

 
Separating the Pomegranate Seeds
First cut the cron end of the pomegranate and then peel the skin off from top to bottom in quarters. Then put the fruit in a bowl of cool water and let it soak for a minute or two. Now hold the fruit under the water and then cut it into sections. Holding it under water and then breaking it, prevents the juice from splattering. The next step involves the separation of the seeds from the rind and the membrane. The seeds sink to the bottom of the bowl and the rind and the skin float on the top of the water surface. Skim the rind and the membrane. Drain the seeds and then pat
 
Uses of Pomegranate

The exotic fruit, as it is often referred to as, pomegranate has been long used in the cusines of various countries. Some culinary uses that pomegranates can be put to include the following:

  • In many regions of India and the Middle East, pomegranate juice is a popular drink. The juice is also used to make curd rice in many Indian states
  • Thick and sweetened pomegranate juice named Grenadine syrup, is extensively used in cocktails
  • This syrup was used in place of tomato by the Iranian countries to make a traditional recipe called fesenjan, which is a thick sauce, which is made from pomegranate juice and ground wallnuts, and often had with duck, chicken and rice
  • The seeds of the fruit, are used as a spice called anardana in India and Pakistan. The spice lends a tangy taste to the dish it is added to, and is often used when making chutneys or curries
  • Pomegranate seeds are also used in salads and also make an excellent garnish for various desserts
  • The fruit is also used to make liqueur
  • Pomegranates are also used as ice cream toppings or are mixed with yogurt or as jam on toast.
 
Health Benefits
  • The pomegranate fruit is rich in beneficial antioxidants, like polyphenols, tannins and anthocyanins. The antioxidant level in pomegranate juice is higher than in other fruit juices, red wine or green tea
  • Recent research has shown that pomegranates can help fight osteoarthritis, as regular consumption of the juice slows down the deterioration of the cartilage
  • Pomegranate juice is also believed to increase blood flow to the heart, and is extremely beneficial for people with ischemic heart disease
  • It is also a good source of vitamins C and B, antioxidant polyphenols, pantothenic acid and potassium
  • The juice of the fruit is an effective remedy to reduce heart disease risk factor, including LDL Oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation
  • Juice of the pomegranate has been found effective in reducing heart disease risk factors, including LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation, all of which are steps in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease
  • The juice of the fruit also has antiviral and antibacterial effects against dental plaque
  • Consumption of pomegranate juice has proven to help immensely in cases of prostate cancer or prostatic hyperplasia, diabetes or lymphoma
  • Pomegranate juice has also shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by inhibiting serum  angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)
 
Origin and Cultural Significance
  • The pomegranate is on of the earliest cultivated fruits, the origin of which can be traced back to as far as 3000 BC. They have been, since time immemorial been linked with health, fertility and rebirth. The fruit finds many references in religion, art and literature
  • The ancient Egyptians linked the fruit with second birth and therefore many Egyptians, including Kind Tut, were buried with pomegranates in hopes of rebirth
  • In Islam, the fruits are believed to be the favourites of Prophet Muhammad and according to the religion, the garden of paradise holds pomegranates
  • According to the Judeo-Christian Bible, Moses tells the Israelites, that they are going to the land of pomegranates
  • A number of paintings by eminent painters show Virgin Mary or the infant Jesus holding a pomegranate
  • Persephon, a Greek Goddess, resigned herself to the underworld for several months, for her taste for the fruit
  • The fruit also finds a reference in Homer's great epic poem, Odyssey
  • Juliet too tells Romeo that the night is young, since it is the Nightingale and not he lark that is singing in the pomegranate tree.
  • In many countries in Turkey, pomegranates are an official logo of many cities
 
Pomegranate Varieties
  • Fleshman: This variety is large and roundish and grows to about 3 inches in diameter. The skin and the fruit seeds are of the same pink colour, and are extremely sweet to taste. The seeds are soft and of extremely good quality
  • Balegal: This variety is mostly found in San Diego, and the fruit is large and round with a three inch diameter. Belagals are larger in size than the fleshman variety. The skin is of a pale pink colour and the flesh is extremely sweet and has a rich dark coloured flesh
  • Crab: The pomegranate trees bearing this variety are usually heavy bearing trees. The fruit is large and is extremely rich in flavour and colour
  • Francis: Originally from Jamaica, this variety is large, sweet and split-resistant
  • Cloud: It is a medium sized fruit, with the flesh having a greenish-red colour. The juice is sweet and white
  • Wonderful: This variety originated in Florida. The large fruit is of a purple red colour from the outside and and deep crimson from the inside. The skin is thick and tough. The juice of the fruit is delicious and has a wine like flavour. It is an ideal variety for extracting juice from it, as the seeds are extremely soft
  • Early Wonderful: The fruit of this variety is large, deep-red, thin-skinned and extremely delicious. It ripens approximately two weeks prior to the wonderful variety, and thus its name. The tree is more like a medium sized bush, which bears orange-red fertile flowers. Though it blooms late, but is extremely productive
  • Granada: This variety is the result of the bud mutation of the Wonderful variety. The fruit has a red crown, even when it is green otherwise. This variety is less tart than the wonderful variety. The fruits of the Granada ripen a month earlier than the wonderful variety
  • Green Globe: An excellent quality fruit, which is large in size, extremely sweet & aromatic and is green skinned
  • Home: The Home variety fruit is yellow-red in colour and has a light pink juice, which is sweet and extremely rich in flavour. This variety has some traces of bitterness too
  • King: The fruit of this variety ranges from medium to large in size and is smaller than the Belegal and the Fleshman varieties. The skin of the fruit ranges from pink to red and is extremely sweet to taste. This variety has a tendency to split
  • Phoenicia (Fenecia): It is a comparatively large fruit, with a diameter of 4-5 inches and a mottled red-green skin. The seeds of this variety are hard and the juice is sweet and full of flavour
  • Sweet: This variety is extremely juicy and is popular ingredient in the fruit punch. It has a pink juice and is often sweeter than the other pomegranate varieties. The trees bearing this variety bear fruit early and are extremely productive
  • Utah Sweet: It is a sweet variety, having a pink skin and pulp. The seeds of this variety are considerably softer than the other varieties.