What is a Pomegranate?

Michael Pollick

A pomegranate is the fruit of a bush native to the Middle East region, although it is also grown commercially in California and other areas with similar climates. The average bush grows to be around 50 feet (about 15 meters) tall, but many species remain relatively close to the ground. Pomegranate bushes have been known to live for hundreds of years, although fruit production tends to drop after a few decades.

Pomegranate juice is often mixed with other beverages to help dilute its strong taste and dark red color.
Pomegranate juice is often mixed with other beverages to help dilute its strong taste and dark red color.

A pomegranate is about the size of an orange, with a yellowish shell that turns a rich red color as it matures. Inside the inedible husk are individual cells containing seed kernels. Each seed is surrounded by a juice-filled sac, which is pressed out during processing. It is the juice of the fruit that interests most cooks and health food enthusiasts.

Pomegranates are native to the Middle East.
Pomegranates are native to the Middle East.

Depending on the variety, pomegranate juice can be extremely sour or pleasantly tart with a degree of sweetness. Many Westerners compare the taste to that of cranberries or sour cherries. It is commonly boiled down into a form of molasses in Middle Eastern countries. A sweet variety of juice is also used to produce grenadine, an ingredient used as a flavor enhancer and colorant in mixed drinks. Straight pomegranate juice is also blended with blueberry or raspberry juice as a healthy beverage.

The main reason many people have become interested in the pomegranate is its antioxidant properties. An average-sized fruit contains substantially more antioxidants than even blueberries or oranges. Antioxidants are believed to protect the body's cells from the damaging effects of free radicals found in oxygen. Since the juice can be a challenge to drink straight, beverage producers may create a more palatable cocktail blend. Chilled juice blends can usually be found in health food outlets and grocery stores.

Because the pomegranate is an ancient fruit, several legends have grown up around it. Some biblical scholars suggest that the "fruit of knowledge" consumed by Adam and Eve against God's command may have been a pomegranate, since it was prevalent during the time of Moses. In some cultures, a representation of the fruit is placed in the bedroom of newlyweds to encourage fertility.

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Discussion Comments


I have just come across pomegranate seeds that are not red, but rather whitish looking. From what I could figure out by researching it is that there are different types of pomegranate and indeed there are some varieties with very pale looking seeds.

The seeds are actually sweet tasting


How much pomegranate juice should one drink each day after prostate surgery? Also, is pomegranate a citrus fruit?


I want to share a method, that I have just learned, of separating the edible part of the pomegranate from the inedible part. Because pomegranate can stain the surface where you work, or anything it touches, it is advisable to work with the fruit under the water.

Cut the top and bottom of the fruit and lightly cut the sides. Do that in a bowl of water. Break the fruit apart and start separating the edible, red seeds from the outer skin and the white pith on the inside that envelopes the seeds.

As you remove the seeds they will fall to the bottom of the bowl, and the pith will float on top of the water. It is easy then to remove and discard the inedible pith. Seeds can be then rinsed and drained in a colander, patted dry and used as needed. The seeds can also be frozen and used within three month.


These days you can find the final product in some stores, that is just the seeds, the edible part, already removed from the inedible part. It makes eating pomegranate fruit much easier, as opposed to picking the seeds one by one.

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