Pomegranate in our A-Z - Cooking Index
The pomegranate is a neat, rounded shrub or small tree that can grow to 20 or 30ft., but more typically to 12 to 16ft. in height. Dwarf varieties are also known.
The fruit can be eaten out of hand by deeply scoring several times vertically and then breaking it apart. The clusters of juice sacs are then lifted out and eaten. The sacs also make an attractive garnish when sprinkled on various dishes. Pomegranate fruits are most often consumed as juice and can be juiced is several ways. The juice can be used in a variety of of ways: as a fresh juice, to make jellies, sorbets or cold or hot sauces as well as to flavor cakes, baked apples, etc. Pomegranate syrup is sold commercially as grenadine. The juice can also be made into a wine.
The taste differs depending on the variety of pomegranate and its ripeness. It can be very sweet or it can be very sour or tangy, but most fruits lie somewhere in between, which is the characteristic taste, laced with notes of its tannin.
The pomegranate is native to Iran where it still grows wild today and from where it spread to India, China and Europe at least two thousand years ago. Spanish sailors took the fruit to America as its tough skin and durability made it a fruit well suited to long sea voyages. They are now grown in the Mediterranean, tropical Africa, India and South East Asia. Largely ignored by the English-speaking world until relatively recently, they have become a much less rare sight in the UK in the last decade.