The humble pomegranate is probably one of the oldest known cultivated fruits. It is thought pomegranates originated in northern India and Iran. The fruit was probably introduced into America, by the Spanish in the early 1500s. Despite their heritage many people are unaware of their splendid taste and fabulous range of vitamins and nutrients they contain. Read more about the delights and benefits of this fascinating fruit and try some of the recipes.
Pomegranates : Ancient, Delicious, Nutritious, Versatile
You may have passed by the humble pomegranate for the more modern and trendy fruits. Well now is the time to have a second look at these ancient and highly nutritious fruit.
The edible part of pomegranates is their seeds, which are contained in the handful of small compartments you see when you cut one open. You need to separate the seeds from the bitter-tasting, white membranes that enclose the seeds. Each seed is covered by a transparent red pulp that has a bitter sweet taste that has the characteristics of many other popular fruits such as Kiwi fruit and passion fruit (sweet and tangy).
Opening a fresh pomegranate to extract the juice and seeds takes a little practice. Slice the fruit in half and remove the seeds with a spoon, making sure to leave the membranes behind. A second method is to cut the crown end off and make several vertical slits down from top to bottom. Then, transfer the pomegranate to a bowl of water, and carefully break the sections apart. The seeds will gradually sink to the bottom of the bowl, while the membranes and rind tend to float to the top and can be scooped out. Collect the seeds in a sieve to drain off the excess water.
You can use a food processor or blender to process the seeds to make fresh pomegranate juice. It is a good idea to strain the juice through a sieve with a fine mesh to catch any stray seeds. You can freeze the juice and store for up to a month.
Nutrients in Pomegranates per 100 gm
|Attribute||Value||Percent of RDA|
|Total Fat||1.17 g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber||4 g||11%|
|Folates||38 micro gm||9.50%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.135 mg||3%|
|Vitamin C||10.2 mg||17%|
|Vitamin E||0.60 mg||4%|
|Vitamin K||16.4 micro gm||14%|
Source: USDA National Nutrient data base (per 100g)
Pomegranates are Rich in Nutrients
See the table opposite from the USDA National Nutrient data base (per 100g)
- Calories - The fruit is sweet and contains about 85 calories for 100 gm, which is slightly more than that in an apple. While pomegranates are fairly high in sugar, small amounts can be used as part of a low-carb diet as flavorings for smoothies, for fresh salads and in curries. The glycemic index (GI) of pomegranates is about 67. This fruit is not a low-carb diet food more a rich source of nutrients.
- Cholesterol - Nil
- Saturated fats - Nil
- Dietary Fiber - Pomegranates are a rich source of both insoluble and soluble dietary fiber with about 4 gm of fiber per 100 gm of fruit, which is about 12% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). The fiber in the fruit tends to slow down the absorption of sugar.
- Vitamin C - Pomegranates are an excellent source of vitamin-C, with 100 gm of pomegranate juice providing about 17% of the average daily requirement for this important vitamin. Consuming fruits rich in vitamin C boost immunity and helps fight infections.
- Thiamin - is part of the B-group of vitamins and helps support carbohydrate metabolism, regulate the appetite and supports the nervous system.
The other vitamins and minerals are listed in the table.
What to Look for When Shopping for Pomegranates
Choose fruits that have smooth, shiny skins, that look plumb and heavy for their size, and are free of blemishes and don't look old. Whole pomegranates can be stored in the fridge for up to 8 weeks. You can also store them at room temperature in a cool, dark place for about a month. You can keep the extracted seeds and pulp in the refrigerator for two to three days and freeze the seeds for up to six months.
Pomegranate blends well with berries and red grapes. Pomegranates add zing and extra flavor to smoothies based on bananas, apples, pears and other fruits.
Pomegranate Recipe Ideas
- 1 apple, cored
- 1 cup fresh pomegranate juice
- 2 -3 cups of raw baby spinach
- 1/2 carrot
- Ice to chill (optional)
Blend on high setting until thoroughly mixed.
- 5 pounds (2 1/2 kg) of pomegranates for the juice and seeds
- 3 1/2 cups freshly processed pomegranate juice
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup seeds from the pomegranates
- Juice of one lemon
Extract the seeds from one of the pomegranates and use the other ones for the juice required in the recipe. Combine the sugar and pomegranate juice together a large saucepan and warm slowly over a moderate heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to medium high, and cook for about 30 minutes. Remove any pink foam that forms. Add the lemon juice and pomegranate seeds and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Then start checking the jam consistency by dropping a small spoonful onto a chilled plate. If the jam on the plate stays in a mound, and does not run, the jam is ready. If it is still too runny, continue cooking and testing every 5 minutes until its ready. Transfer the jam to sterilized jars and store them in a cool, dark place.
Spinach Pomegranate Salad
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
- 1 pomegranate, peeled and seeds separated
- 1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts (this is optional)
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces
- 1/4 red onion, sliced very thin
- 1 bag baby spinach leaves, rinsed and drained
Place the washed spinach in a salad bowl ready to be served. Add the walnuts, feta, red onions and sprouts. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on to the top of the mixed salad, and pour on drizzles of vinaigrette.
Spicy lamb Casserole
- 750g roasting shoulder lamb, cut off the bone
- one bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely
- 6 pomegranates
- 2 bay leaves
- 100 gm walnuts finely chopped
- 1/2 a stick of cinnamon
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
- 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Slice the lamb into medium size cubes. Add a teaspoon of sea salt and black pepper to the flour. Roll the lamb cubes in the seasoned flour until thoroughly coated (not too thick). Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan until it starts to smoke. Add a single layer of lamb pieces and cook until and browned evenly, remove from the pan. Cook the remaining lamb in batches. Then return all the lamb pieces to the pan and lower the heat. Add the onion, garlic, cinnamon, celery, walnuts to the pan and add to bay leaves. With the lid on the pan, cook very slowly for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions start to soften. Cut the pomegranates in half, remove the membranes, and blend the rest into juice. Pour the pomegranate juice into the lamb and add enough water to just barely cover the lab. Simmer very slowly for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the lamb is just becoming tender. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick, and its ready to serve.