Pome­gran­ate — The win­ter superfruit

Fer­til­i­ty, beau­ty and eter­nal life — these are just a few of the sym­bols for which the pome­gran­ate stands. The pome­gran­ate is not only high­ly val­ued for its health-giv­ing prop­er­ties — rather, it is its shape and numer­ous seeds that have giv­en it sym­bol­ic char­ac­ter in many cultures. 

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of the pomegranate

The pome­gran­ate belongs to the botan­i­cal fam­i­ly of looses­trife and is basi­cal­ly not a fruit, but a berry. The pome­gran­ate tree can grow up to 15 meters tall and live up to 100 years. The berry itself, how­ev­er, reach­es just ten cen­time­ters in diam­e­ter. The pome­gran­ate con­sists of sev­er­al small seeds, which are locat­ed in indi­vid­ual cham­bers and are sep­a­rat­ed by white skins. The cham­bers, in turn, are encased in a yel­low to red leath­ery skin that pro­tects the interior. 

Due to its numer­ous seeds, the berry has a great influ­ence in many cul­tures: In Greek and Per­sian mythol­o­gy, for exam­ple, the pome­gran­ate is con­sid­ered a sym­bol of fer­til­i­ty, beau­ty and eter­nal life. In the Chris­t­ian Mid­dle Ages, the pome­gran­ate was seen above all on coats of arms and paint­ings as a sym­bol of pow­er and the virtues of rulers. In Bud­dhism, it is also one of the “three blessed fruits”, along with the peach and the lemon. The pome­gran­ate also plays an impor­tant role in Chris­tian­i­ty: for exam­ple, some sci­en­tists believe that the apple that Adam and Eve ate in par­adise was actu­al­ly a pome­gran­ate. That is why many also call the pome­gran­ate the apple of paradise. 

The ingre­di­ents of the pomegranate

The blood-red berry con­tains a lot of antiox­i­dants, min­er­als and vit­a­mins. The high­est dos­es are potas­si­um, cal­ci­um, iron, vit­a­min C and B. On 100 grams come about: 

  • 220 mg potassium 
  • 8 mg calcium 
  • 7 mg vit­a­min C 
  • 7 mg vit­a­min B 

The effect of the pome­gran­ate on our body

The pome­gran­ate is one of the most pow­er­ful antiox­i­dant foods and there­fore has anti-inflam­ma­to­ry, anti-can­cer and pre­ven­tive effects against car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases. In addi­tion, the berry not only improves our mem­o­ry per­for­mance, but also strength­ens our ath­let­ic per­for­mance. That is why pome­gran­ates are often found in dietary sup­ple­ments. How­ev­er, one should not over­do it: If one takes too high amounts of pome­gran­ate, it could have a neg­a­tive effect on liv­er and kid­ney val­ues. Pome­gran­ate can also inter­act with cer­tain med­ica­tions, as the sub­stances it con­tains inhib­it the activ­i­ty of enzymes. Thus, when tak­ing blood-thin­ning med­ica­tions with the active ingre­di­ents phen­pro­coumon or war­farin, the berry should be avoided. 

The pome­gran­ate in the kitchen

The pome­gran­ate seeds are what actu­al­ly makes the pome­gran­ate: juicy-red, small, crunchy and tart-sweet in taste, they enhance many dish­es not only visu­al­ly, but also taste. As a dessert, in mues­li or in sal­ads — the small red berry always pro­vides an exot­ic kick. 

How­ev­er, many peo­ple quick­ly lose their appetite for the pome­gran­ate dur­ing prepa­ra­tion, because cor­ing can be quite labo­ri­ous and can pro­duce one or two unwant­ed spots. To get to the small seeds as eas­i­ly as pos­si­ble, the pome­gran­ate can be rolled back and forth a lit­tle before cut­ting. This will loosen the seeds from the cham­bers and make it eas­i­er to get them out after cut­ting. Anoth­er method of get­ting to the inside of the pome­gran­ate as quick­ly and clean­ly as pos­si­ble is to cut off the ends of the pome­gran­ate and then break the berry apart in a bowl full of water. The seeds will sink to the bot­tom, while the peel and skins will col­lect on the sur­face of the water. 

If you don’t want to remove the seeds, you can sim­ply squeeze the pome­gran­ate. The result­ing pome­gran­ate juice can be drunk pure or used to refine cock­tails or oth­er drinks. But the juice also looks good in savory dish­es. As a sauce it can be served well with meat and fish dish­es. It tastes par­tic­u­lar­ly good in com­bi­na­tion with game. 

Pur­chase and stor­age of pomegranates 

Pome­gran­ates can be bought in super­mar­kets or Turk­ish stores from Octo­ber to Feb­ru­ary. Since pome­gran­ates do not ripen, they are not picked until they are com­plete­ly ripe. A ripe pome­gran­ate has a hard red shiny skin. If the skin is soft, it is a sign that the berry inside is spoiled. On the oth­er hand, dent­ed, dried areas, as well as spots on the skin are not a qual­i­ty defect. A pome­gran­ate with such a skin can be pur­chased with­out hes­i­ta­tion. In gen­er­al, the heav­ier the pome­gran­ate, the riper and sweet­er its seeds. 

In the refrig­er­a­tor, the pome­gran­ate lasts between four to eight weeks. How­ev­er, it should not be stored in the crisper as it is too humid there and will rot faster. At room tem­per­a­ture, the pome­gran­ate can be stored for up to three weeks, as long as it is not exposed to direct sunlight. 


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