Nov 28 - Dec 4, 2011

A pomegranate is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between five and eight meters tall. The pomegranate is native to the area that in modern times is Iran. From there, it spread to Asian areas such as the Caucasus, the Himalayas in Northern India and in Kerala.

It has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times, and today, is widely cultivated throughout Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, China, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, the drier parts of southeast Asia, the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe, and tropical Africa.

Introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranate is now cultivated in parts of California and Arizona for juice production.

In the northern hemisphere, the fruit is typically in season from September to February. In the southern hemisphere, it is in season from March to May. The pomegranate has been mentioned in many ancient texts, notably the Homeric Hymns and the Book of Exodus and is valued by many cultures for its beauty. It has, in recent years, reached mainstream prominence in the commercial markets of North America and the Western Hemisphere.

The pomegranate is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and was cultivated and naturalized over the whole Mediterranean region since ancient times. It is widely cultivated throughout India and the drier parts of southeast Asia, Malaya, the East Indies and tropical Africa.

Spanish settlers introduced the tree into California in 1769. In this country, it is grown for its fruits mainly in the drier parts of California and Arizona.

The pomegranate is a neat, rounded shrub or small tree that can grow to 20 or 30 ft., but more typically to 12 to 16 ft. in height. Dwarf varieties are also known.

It is usually deciduous, but in certain areas, the leaves will persist on the tree. The trunk is covered by a red-brown bark, which later becomes gray. The branches are stiff, angular, and often spiny. Pomegranates are also long-lived. There are specimens in Europe that are known to be over 200 years of age. The vigor of a pomegranate declines after about 15 years.

The attractive scarlet, white, or variegated flowers are over an inch across and have five to eight crumpled petals and a red, fleshy, tubular calyx, which persists on the fruit.

The flowers may be solitary or grouped in twos and threes at the ends of the branches. The pomegranate is self-pollinated as well as cross-pollinated by insects. Cross-pollination increases the fruit set. Wind pollination is insignificant.

The nearly round, 2-1/2 to 5 in. wide fruit is crowned at the base by the prominent calyx. The tough, leathery skin or rind is typically yellow overlaid with light or deep pink or rich red. The interior is separated by membranous walls and white, spongy, bitter tissue into compartments packed with sacs filled with sweetly acid, juicy, red, pink, or whitish pulp or aril.

High temperatures are essential during the fruiting period to get the best flavor. The pomegranate may begin to bear in 1 year after planting out, but 2-1/2 to 3 years is more common. Under suitable conditions, the fruit should mature some 5 to 7 months after bloom.

After opening the pomegranate by scoring it with a knife and breaking it open, the arils (seed casings) are separated from the peel and internal white pulp membranes.

Separating the red arils is easier in a bowl of water, because the arils sink and the inedible pulp floats. Freezing the entire fruit also makes it easier to separate. Another very effective way of quickly harvesting the arils is to cut the pomegranate in half, score each half of the exterior rind four to six times, hold the pomegranate half over a bowl and smack the rind with a large spoon.

The arils should eject from the pomegranate directly into the bowl, leaving only a dozen or more deeply embedded arils to remove.

The entire seed is consumed raw, though the watery, tasty aril is the desired part. The taste differs depending on the subspecies of pomegranate and its ripeness.

The pomegranate juice can be very sweet or sour, but most fruits are moderate in taste, with sour notes from the acidic tannins contained in the aril juice. Pomegranate juice has long been a popular drink in Persian, Pakistani and Indian cuisine and began to be widely distributed in the United States and Canada in 2002.

Wild pomegranate seeds are used as a spice known as anardana (from Persian: anar+dana, pomegranate+seed), most notably in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, but also as a substitute for pomegranate syrup in Persian cuisine.

Dried whole arils can often be obtained in ethnic Indian subcontinent markets. These seeds are separated from the flesh, dried for 10-15 days, and used as an acidic agent for chutney and curry preparation.

Ground anardana is also used, which results in a deeper flavoring in dishes and prevents the seeds from getting stuck in teeth. Seeds of the wild pomegranate variety known as daru from the Himalayas are regarded as quality sources for this spice.

The healthy pomegranate fruit is a bright red and beautiful fruit that grows on bushes or trees. This amazingly healthy and delicious fruit has been around for thousands of years and has long been recognized as beneficial for overall health.

Spanish settlers introduced the pomegranate tree into the state of California sometime in the late 1700's and it has thrived there and in Arizona ever since.

We can get plenty of vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A. It's a good source of B Vitamins too. Pomegranates can deliver some of the best dietary fiber of any other fruit - one fruit contains about 100 calories.

Pomegranate contains higher level of antioxidants than those of blueberries, cranberries and oranges and even red wine or green tea. The fruit is eaten around the world to make their skin clear and glowing.

The anti-inflammatory agent in pomegranate juice significantly reduces arthritic pain. Drinking concentrated pomegranate juice may reduce cholesterol. Pomegranate juice prevents breast cancer cell from forming.

The juice destroys breast cancer cells while leaving healthy cells protected. The juice may inhibit the development of lung cancer.

Research shows that maternal consumption of pomegranate juice may protect the neonatal brain from damage after injury.

It may prevent and slow Alzheimer's disease. The juice may prevent dental plaque.

Pomegranate fruit helps to remove intestinal worms in children. Drinking pomegranate juice frequently is extremely beneficial in fighting the hardening of arteries (atherosclerosis). Eating pomegranate frequently may reduce the blood vessel damage. It is found to actually reverse the progression of this disease.

Pomegranate juice can help keep blood platelets from clumping together to form unwanted clots. Drinking eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily for three months improves the amount of oxygen getting to the heart muscle of patients with coronary heart disease.

Studies show that long-term consumption of pomegranate juice may help combat erectile dysfunction. The high content of ascorbic acid in this fruit can help prevent and remedy some respiratory problem. Pomegranate juice can help increase our appetite.

An average pomegranate contains about 600 juicy seeds, also known as arils, which are encapsulated in white pith. The pomegranate fruit is low in calories, high in fiber, high in vitamins and high in phyto chemicals that may promote heart health and help to prevent cancer. Pomegranate seeds are a good source of two essential vitamins, C and K.

A 100 g portion of raw provides 10.2 mg of vitamin C or 17 percent of the recommended daily value. Pomegranate seeds provide slightly more than 16 mcg of vitamin K.

Vitamin C enhances iron absorption. Vitamin K is important for maintaining strong, healthy bones as well as proper blood clotting.

Pomegranates have very high content of punicalagins, a potent anti-oxidant component found to be responsible for its superior health benefits.

The level of anti-oxidant is even higher than those of other fruits known to have high-levels of anti-oxidant including blueberries, cranberries and oranges. This was attributed to the very high poly phenol content in the fruit. They are also a good source of vitamin B (riboflavin, thiamin, and niacin), vitamin C, calcium, and phosphorus. These combination and other minerals in pomegranates cause a powerful synergy that prevents and reverses many diseases. Pomegranate is among the most popular, nutritionally rich fruit with unique flavor, taste, and heath promoting characteristics.