What are we eating there?
Juicy, refreshing, healthy - with these words the fruit of the pomegranate tree can be aptly described. To get to the up to 1,000 juicy kernels of a fruit, you first have to fight through a leathery shell. Everyone who has already eaten the extraordinary fruit fresh knows that it is worth it. But why does it make the fruit so difficult for us and how is it actually classified botanically?
It is vital for the pomegranate tree (Punica granatum) that the fruit cannot simply be broken open. Protected by a smooth and up to 5 millimeter thick shell, the pea-sized, angular seeds ripen inside the fruit. They serve the tree for reproduction and thus for survival. When the fruit ripens on the tree and is not harvested, the dried shell bursts open, the seeds are eaten and spread by birds.
As the fleshy skin of the pomegranate dries like leather with increasing ripeness, botanists also refer to the fruit as a »dry berry«. Inside, this has another special feature: the many individual seeds lie close together in several fruit cavities, which are separated from one another by tough walls. It is the small seeds that provide the edible, aromatic and sour part of the fruit and thus the healthy ingredients. The outer part of the small seeds becomes fleshy red and juicy with maturity, the inner part becomes woody and hard.
The seeds contain a lot of vitamin C, minerals such as potassium, trace elements such as iron, B vitamins, fiber and in large quantities also secondary plant substances such as polyphenols. Antioxidative, anti-inflammatory and cancer-inhibiting effects are attributed to the latter.
When buying pomegranates, you should make sure that the fruits with a diameter of up to 12 cm are intact and ripe, as they do not ripen. Ripe fruit can be recognized by the color of the skin. Mostly they are red-skinned varieties; however, there are also varieties with yellow fruits. These should then have a uniform yellow color.
Intact and healthy fruits can be kept at home at room temperature for a week or two. Even if the shell shrinks gradually, the seeds inside remain fresh. Pomegranates have a longer shelf life in the refrigerator, about two to four weeks.
Pomegranate seeds are very versatile in the kitchen. They taste extremely pure and are also very refreshing as a decoration or part of hearty or fruity salads, creams, puddings or ice cream. Pomegranate juice can be used very well as a marinade for game, lamb or poultry. It also tastes refreshingly delicious in fruit drinks, sorbets, water and milk ice cream or jellies.
By the way: no special tools are required to open a pomegranate. It works very well if you first cut a thin slice with a sharp knife on the top of the fruit, the goblet. Then carefully carve the bowl several times from the goblet to the stem. You should make sure that the juicy seeds are not injured if possible.
Now the fruit can be broken from the calyx to the stem. If you want to get to the kernels without splashing juice, you can also break up the fruit in a bowl of cold water. Important: The fruit should be completely covered with water. Heike Stommel, respectively