Pomegranate

Tonielle Christensen Edible Plants, Land & Nature Stewardship

Pomegranate


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Common Name:  Pomegranate.

Latin Name:  Punica granatum.

Origin:  Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, Afghanistan and Iran.

Description (what it looks like):  A small deciduous tree growing to about 8m.  In late spring to summer single scarlet/orange flowers with crepe-like petals appear.  The fruit develops from late summer to early winter.  The fruit start small (in the shape of crowns) and grow to the size of a tennis ball.  On average 6-10 cm in diameter and weighs about 200 gm).  It is yellow with heavy red shading, and has a thick rind surrounding many seeds in a reddish, jelly-like pulp.  The bright, glossy green leaves turn yellow in autumn.  Pomegranate is one of the oldest cultivated fruit trees in the world, in fact, there are some schools of thought that suggest the pomegranate was in fact the “forbidden fruit” in the Bible, rather than the humble apple.

Uses (function):  Pomegranates are very hardy and can be grown anywhere in Australia.  Grow into a hedge, or shape into borders.  They grow well as both a container plant and an interesting bonsai specimen.  Edible.

Nutritional value:  A good source of soluble and insoluble dietary fibers, helps digestion and bowel movements.  Nutritionists often recommend pomegranate in the diet to reduce weight and control cholesterol.  Regular consumption boosts immunity, improves circulation and offers protection from cancers.  The fruit is an also good source of antioxidant vitamin C and many B-complex vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), folates, pyridoxine and vitamin-K, and minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, and manganese.

Growing details (propagation, seed etc):  Pomegranates are among the easiest of all fruits to grow at home.  Can be propagated from seed sown in spring or from cuttings taken between spring and autumn.  Pomegranates are ready to harvest in autumn to winter; pick the biggest, brightest fruits first.  Prune during winter, but remember pomegranates bear their fruit on mature wood.

Best time to grow:  Plant out in spring.

Soil:  Moderately fertile, well-drained soil enriched with organic material.

Sun:  Full sun, protected from winter winds.

Water:  Moderate.  Keep moist and water more during spring.

How to eat it:  Tart, citrusy and incredibly juicy, use in drinks, salads or desserts.  Split open the fruit to find rows of red seeds.  Makes an attractive garnish on salads and dishes.  Juice can be made from the seeds and used in soups, jellies, sorbets, sauces as well as to flavor cakes, baked apples, and other desserts.  Pomegranate concentrate is a popular ingredient used in the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean recipes.  The juice concentrated to about 250% stronger into a thick sauce (grenadine).  When added in cooking, it gives a unique flavor and intense sweet taste.  Grenadine usually added to non-alcoholic drinks and sorbets.

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