Pomegranate power 101

Beautiful jewels of deliciousness burst with goodness.

01 Feb 2012

What is it?
The fruit is slightly bigger than an orange with leathery gold and crimson skin. Rip it open to reveal red, jewel-like seeds housed in a white spongy membrane. The seeds are sweet, juicy and ever so slightly bitter.

Pomegranates are grown on small deciduous trees and are widely cultivated throughout Iran, India, East Indies, and tropical Africa, drier parts of south-east Asia, California and Arizona. Pomegranates are drought tolerant and grow in areas with either a Mediterranean winter rainfall climate or in summer rainfall claimates.

Pomegranates are now being successfully cultivated in South Africa. Once you've opened the fruit, an easy way of removing the arils (seeds) from the supporting white pith is to drop the fruit in a bowl of water. The arils will sink and the pith will float to the top.

Pom-tastic health
High in potassium. Packed with disease fighting anti-oxidants.
High in vitamin C, niacin and fibre.
Rich source of folic acid and antioxidants.
Used in the Middle East to treat throat inflammation and rheumatism.
The juice is said to help reduce risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Just so you know
Grenadine, the red stuff used in cocktails, is reduced, sweetened pomegranate juice.
The seeds are separated from the pith and dried for about 10 to 15 days then used as an acidic agent in chutney and curry; they can also be ground into a powder.
Pomegranate juice stains clothing permanently unless it is washed immediately.

Other ideas
Served at London's Moro restaurant, this yoghurty salsa is great with fish or lamb. Mix 500 ml fat-free yoghurt, one crushed garlic clove, 80 g pomegranate seeds and a handful of roughly chopped Italian parsley (and/or mint) together. Season with salt and pepper.

Make a dressing with 80 ml pomegranate juice, 45 ml red wine vinegar, 30 ml finely chopped onion, 15 ml honey and 30 ml olive oil. Mix well. Stir in 60 ml pomegranate seeds and season to taste. Particularly delicious drizzled over a salad of baby spinach leaves, green beans, grilled chicken and toasted pecan nuts.

Make a spicy fruit salad with orange segments, pineapple wedges and pawpaw chunks. Heat 125 ml each castor sugar and water together with half 3 ml chilli flakes and 5 ml freshly grated ginger. Bring to the boil and remove from heat, stir in half 125 ml pomegranate seeds and cool. Spoon over fruit or use as a drizzle for sorbet or plain yoghurt. Option: add a dash of rose or orange blossom water to hot syrup.

5 things to do with pomegranates:

Smoked springbok carpaccio with jellied pomegranate concentrate and parmesan

Pistachio and pomegranate semifreddo

Pork chops with pomegranate sauce

Camembert with spiced honeyed walnuts and pomegranate syrup

Blue berry tart with pomegranate syrup



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