When to pick pomegranate?

How to tell when a pomegranate is ready to pick | The Sacramento Bee

Pomegranates are ripe when they go from round to blocky. They will be heavy and the once-shiny skin will take on a matte finish. POM Wonderful

Experts tackle readers’ garden questions.

Q: How can I tell if my pomegranates are ripe? They are big and bright red.

Zina Powning, Sacramento

Bee garden writer Debbie Arrington: As someone who has grown backyard pomegranates for more than 30 years, I’ve had plenty of experience with this perplexing fruit. They need patience as they ripen in the fall and often are not ready to pick until November – or later.

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Pomegranates grow on deciduous shrubs or small trees with multiple trunks that can reach more than 20 feet in height. The most popular red variety is the aptly named Wonderful.

Pomegrantes won’t ripen after harvest, so taking that extra time pays dividends in more juice and sweeter fruit.

Color alone won’t tell you when to pick a pomegranate. Not all varieties turn crimson red; some look pale pink, creamy white or mottled with yellow when ripe. Others go to the other extreme and become dark red-purple. Red, pink, white or purple, ripe pomegranates should have no trace of green on their leathery skin.

Likewise, the seed sacks – called arils – may be white, pink or purple when ripe as well as familiar red.

As the pomegranate ripens, the seed sacks swell, changing the shape of the fruit. Instead of perfectly round, the pomegranate becomes blocky and almost hexagonal in shape, reflecting the swollen seed chambers inside. The stem and blossom ends of the fruit also flatten.

In addition, the pomegranates get very heavy, pulling down the tree’s branches.

Watch closely as the pomegranates start looking blocky. Then, pay careful attention to the fruit’s skin. It will start to develop a matte finish or feel rough instead of glossy and smooth.

As those arils get bigger, they strain the pomegranate’s thick skin to the point of bursting. The skin will start to split, especially when exposed to rain or high humidity such as fog. If left on the tree, the fruit will split wide open, exposing the seed sacks.

When the first pomegranate shows signs of splitting, it’s time to harvest the whole tree – even the small pomegranates. They should all be ripe.

When harvesting, use pruning shears or sturdy scissors to cut the stems as close to the fruit as possible.

Still not convinced they’re ripe? Here are two more tests. Pull and gently twist a pomegranate. It should slip easily off its stem when ripe. (Still, it’s better to cut them off the tree than pull.)

Tap the fruit with your finger and listen. A ripe pomegranate will sound almost tinny.

Once harvested, pomegranates will keep for several days at room temperature; just keep them out of direct sun. They may be stored whole, loosely wrapped in plastic bags and refrigerated, for up to three months.

The Bee’s Debbie Arrington is a lifelong gardener and consulting rosarian. Call 916-321-1075, @debarrington

Garden questions?

Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties. Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to h&[email protected] Please put “Garden Detective” in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact UC Extension directly, call:

I’ve loved pomegranates ever since I first had them in third grade. The bright red seeds are not only beautiful and offer numerous health benefits, but they are very delicious and can be used in many ways such as in alcoholic beverages. However, it seems that every time I open a pomegranate, I never know what to expect. The seeds inside are either white, red, purple or a mix of those colors.

Supposedly, pomegranates are only picked when they are ripe, but as a frequent buyer of pomegranates, this is utterly false. After years of randomly picking pomegranates and simply wishing the one I selected was ripe, I finally learned how to tell if a pomegranate is ripe. And it’s pretty simple. All you have to do is look for these certain signs.

The Season

llee_wu on Flickr

Late summer to early winter is the prime time to buy a pomegranate because they’re in season for North America, so you’re more likely to get a ripe pomegranate during this time. During the off season, pomegranates are imported from countries like Chile and Peru.

Shape and Color

Bryan_T on Flickr

Although many fruits are picked for their roundness, round pomegranates should be avoided. Pomegranates with sides that are slightly flat are riper because the ripe seeds inside exert pressure, causing the pomegranate sides to flatten. The color of a ripe pomegranate should range from medium red to dark red. There should be no sign of green.

Weight

thechallahblog on Flickr

A ripe pomegranates should be heavy because it is filled with seeds containing a lot of juice. Pomegranates that are lightweight usually contain white seeds.

Next time you’re looking at a selection of pomegranates, consider the season, shape, color and weight of it. After picking a ripe pomegranate, the only thing left to do is de-seed it and enjoy your delicious pomegranate.

How to Distinguish if a Pomegranate is Ripe or Not

Tips that Will Help You Identify a Ripe Pomegranate

Pomegranates are a favorite of many because of its exquisite taste, perhaps, like cherries or cranberries. It is a bit messy, though, when you eat the seeds in it. If you are also fond of eating them, the best thing you can do about it is growing them in your own yard. You can eat them anytime you want! Isn’t that nice?

So, you started growing them, provided the nutrients your pomegranates need, waited for a couple of days or weeks and now you are ready for the harvest season! But, how can you really tell if a pomegranate is ripe? We would be happy to share some helpful tips!​

More…

How to Distinguish if a Pomegranate is Ripe or Not

How to Tell If Your Pomegranate is Ripe

There aren’t too many notes to take down and remember. The color, the size, the weight or texture are the most common factors you need to check out and with pomegranates, it would be just the same thing.

Here are the eight (8) helpful tips to know if your pomegranates are already ripe or not.

  1. Pomegranates may commonly shape round like balls but they aren’t the ripe ones. You should check if it is flattened or with angular sides. This would be the optimal shape for a ripe pomegranate.
  2. The next thing to do is check the color. While growing them, you may notice that some pomegranates have a combination of red and little shades of green. If those are the visible colors, they aren’t ripe yet. Their color should be bright red or crimson.
  3. Know the texture of their skin. Ripe pomegranates have firm yet shiny and smooth skin, though sometimes it could be a little rough but not too much. And if you scratch them with your fingernails, it should be difficult to do so.
  4. If you notice some splits in the rinds, you can already pick them out even if it is not the scheduled harvest date. You should eat this right away. The splits in the pomegranates are usually visible due to rapid changes in the weather or temperature.
  5. Check the weight. If a pomegranate is ripe, it should be heavier than what it looks like. The heavier it is, the juicier it will be.
  6. Try to pick one fruit from the branch and twist it. If it is easy to pick and twist, that could be an indication that your pomegranate is already ripe. If you struggle a bit picking the fruit, it is not ready yet.
  7. Check the fruit and tap it with your finger. If it makes a metallic sound when tapped, it is ready.
  8. Gently squeeze the fruit. It should not be too soft or too firm. The skin feels soft but not squishy.​

Harvest and Store: Keep Your Pomegranates Fresh

Harvest and Store: Keep Your Pomegranates Fresh

After considering all the tips mentioned above and you’ve noticed these signs on your pomegranates, they must be in the ripening stage. And if they are, you should pick them as soon as possible. Leaving them on the tree longer than they should be, your pomegranates will overripe. They would be bland and dull.

Now that you’ve already picked them out, you would want to keep them fresh and ripe for the longest time possible. Proper storage is the key. But, how?​

  1. Refrigerate your pomegranates. Others may just leave it on the counter or table, though it is what most people do, but you shouldn’t. If you want to keep them fresh and ripe, it is advisable to refrigerate them. Refrigerating your pomegranates will make them fresher and can even last for about two months.​
  2. Choose a dry or cool place. If it won’t be possible for you to refrigerate your pomegranates, a dry or cool place would be alright. Storing them in such place can help your fruits last for a month.
  3. Put the seeds in the fridge. If you have already removed the seeds and you want to eat them after a few days, refrigerating them for five days will do so. However, before putting them in, you should always store them in a perfectly sealed container or plastic bag.
  4. Store the seeds in the freezer. The results are different if you freeze the seeds rather than just refrigerate them. So if you don’t have any plans to eat them for a couple of days but still want to prolong the freshness, freeze the seeds. There are just some things to remember before doing this.

  • The seeds should be dry before freezing them.
  • To dry the seeds, wash them and remove the white bits.
  • Place them in a zip lock or storage bag. Make sure to seal it tightly.

Freezing can keep your seeds fresh up to one year. However, it is also best to use or consume the seeds within the year.

Final Words

It is always nice to have your own yard to grow your favorite fruits. Pomegranates, for example. And if you really want to get the best of your fruits, the juiciest and the most delicious flavor, consider the tips mentioned above. Check the shape, the weight, the size and the texture. Once you’ve picked all the ripe pomegranates, proper storage is vital.

Are you also growing your own serrano peppers? How will you know when you can harvest them? The next article will tell you how!

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How to Tell If a Pomegranate Is Ripe

There are a couple of ways to remove pomegranate seeds, but no matter which method you try, getting all those tiny seeds out of the giant fruit is a lot of work. And since it’s so much effort, and whole pomegranates are fairly expensive, you really want to make sure your pomegranate is ripe and the seeds are ready to be picked before you go through all that trouble. So how can you tell when a pomegranate is ripe, and the seeds inside are juicy and ready to eat?

Unfortunately, you’re not going to learn much by looking at the color of a pomegranate, since it can vary from pink to dark red. Even scratches on the surface of the pomegranate aren’t necessarily a sign to avoid a piece of fruit or that the seeds inside have gone bad. According to the experts at the Pomegranate Council, the best way to tell if a pomegranate is ripe is to hold it. “A good, ripe pomegranate should feel heavy, as if it’s very full of juice (which it is!),” they explain, adding, “and the skin should be firm and taut.” Ripe pomegranates should be “heavy for their size,” say the editors of the Los Angeles Times.

If you’re having trouble figuring out which pomegranate is heavier, and therefore juicier, pick up a few to compare. Don’t be afraid to take your time. After all, you’re going to be spending a while taking out those seeds, so you might as well be sure you’re getting the best ones possible before you start whacking away.

Once you’ve picked your pomegranate, the best way to store it so it stays fresh is to refrigerate it. If you keep it whole and in the fridge, the fruit will last for three to four weeks. Once you’ve deseeded the fruit, store pomegranate seeds in an airtight container in the fridge. The editors of Cook’s Illustrated have found they’ll stay fresh for up to five days—which is plenty of time to add them to everything you’re eating.

How to Select and Open a Pomegranate

Pomegranates are chock full of antioxidants, but extracting the arils (seeds) can be a pain. Before you get to that point, you need to know how to select the best pomegranate in the bin at the grocery store. Here are some helpful tips.

How to Choose a Pomegranate

  • A larger pomegranate typically has juicier seeds (arils). Select a big one.
  • A heavier pomegranate has more juice. Compare like sizes and select the heavier one.
  • Look at the skin. Dry skin signals the fruit is drying out. The skin should be leathery in appearance.
  • Also, check that there are no blemishes as a damaged exterior may signal a damaged interior.
  • The color should be deep red. Lighter skinned ones are not as good.
  • Look at the shape. They will never be perfectly round, but any flat spots may signal that the fruit in a particular inner membrane has dried out

Now that you have selected a perfect fruit, what do you do with it?

If you have a knife, you can certainly get the seeds out. However, the below method ensures that most arils stay intact and helps to eliminate squirting red juice on your clothes.

How to Open a Pomegranate

  1. Score the pomegranate into sixths or quarters and place in a bowl of water.
  2. Break open the pomegranates underwater to free the arils (seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top.
  3. Sieve the membrane out. Don’t leave the pomegranate to soak for too long otherwise, the membrane will fall to the bottom.

If you accidentally fling some juice on your clothes while opening or eating a pomegranate. Treat it immediately. Here are some suggestions for getting rid of pomegranate stains.

Also, a fresh, unrefrigerated pomegranate will last about a week while a refrigerated one could last a few months.

Or, you can try a nifty tool that removes arils from pomegranates.

Pomegranate 101

Everything you need to know about pomegranate. How to choose the perfect pomegranate, how seed it, how to store it, and more. Pom appetit!

Folks! I just discovered that our childhoods were all LIES. Did you drink Shirley Temples as a kid? You know, ginger ale + grenadine + maraschino cherry? And did you just assume that this was a cherry flavored glass of heaven? Well guess what…it wasn’t cherry flavored! Apparently grenadine is a pomegranate-based simple syrup. I dunno, maybe that’s common knowledge…but it was news to me.

The “pome” in pomegranate comes from the Latin word for apple, and the “granate” from the word for seed. But “granate” may also have come from the Old French word for “grenat”, which describes the deep red color of the fruit. Am I the only one who thinks word history is awesome? Like here’s another one. The term for the scary exploding weapon “grenade” also comes from the French word for pomegranate. Pomegranate, the exploding grenade of sweet, juicy nectar!

How to Pick the Perfect Pomegranate

In the Northern Hemisphere, pomegranates are in their peak season from August to January, while in the Southern Hemisphere it’s just the opposite. Choose a pomegranate that has a deep, vibrant color, and that is a bit lumpy. A lumpy pomegranate is a hint that the seeds inside are becoming perfectly juicy! The unripe fruit will often be lighter and will make a hollow sound when tapped. And as is the case with most fruits, pomegranate should be heavy for its size with few scrapes or bruises.

How to Deseed A Pomegranate

Pomegranate juice is not to be messed with when it comes to its introduction to white clothing. Not even my grandma’s sworn-by Greased Lightning will get this stuff out…but there’s a trick to seeding these guys without taking a permanent toll on your attire. You’ll need a knife, a bowl of water, and, well, a pomegranate.

  1. Flip the pomegranate so you’re looking at either the crown or the butt. You’ll see that there are 6(ish) distinct ridges running down the fruit. Gently score each of these with a knife (don’t cut all the way through but draw a semi-deep line of sorts with your knife) running from crown to butt along the ridge.
  2. Over your bowl of water and facing away from you, break the pomegranate in half.
  3. In the water, break the pomegranate at your score lines to create wedges of sorts. And from there you can work out the seeds, keeping the pieces under water to prevent pomegranate juice explosions.
  4. The white pulp will float while the seeds will sink. Strain out the pulp and Pom Appetit!

And as a note, you can eat the entire pomegranate seed! The small hard seeds inside the juice are full of fiber (though you can spit them out of you don’t like the texture).

How to Store Pomegranates

  • Whole: Store whole pomegranates at room temperature for several days, or place them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few weeks
  • Seeded: The seeds should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days, or they can be frozen in a single layer then stored in a freezer-safe container in the freezer. Note, they may lose their shape when thawed.

Our favorite pomegranate recipes

  • Pomegranate Holiday Sangria
  • Roasted Cranberry Pomegranate Salsa
  • Frozen Yogurt Bark with Pomegranate and Dark Chocolate
  • Bulgur Salad with Feta and Pomegranate
  • Pull Apart Bread with Orange and Pomegranate

Pomegranate Nutrition Information

per 1 cup of pomegranate seeds (174 g)

  • Calories: 144
  • Carbohydrates: 32 g
  • Fiber: 6 g, 28% Daily Value (DV)
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Fat: 2 g
  • 36% DV of Vitamin K: A fat-soluble vitamin that allows for activation of enzymes in the clotting cascade, which is responsible for blood clotting. Also builds bone by modifying osteocalcin so that it may bind calcium, thus building the bone matrix.
  • 30% DV of Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to fight against potentially damaging free radicals (molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc) and an important cofactor in collagen synthesis.
  • 16% DV of Folate (Vitamin B9): A water-soluble vitamin that helps make DNA & RNA and metabolize amino acids.
  • 12% DV of Potassium: A key mineral and electrolyte involved in countless processes, including healthy nervous system functioning and contraction of the heart and muscles.
  • 10% DV of Manganese: A trace element that plays a role in healthy brain and nervous system function.

Until recently, America’s pomegranate lovers could indulge their passion for its ruby-red seeds for less than half the year. Now, the trendy fresh fruit that’s packed with health benefits will be available in the United States year-round.

More than a thousand pounds of pomegranate seeds arrived last week from India at the Hunts Point wholesale produce market in the Bronx. They quickly appeared at retail markets in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — and sold out within a day.

“I’ve seen fads for all kinds of fruit, like kiwi and blueberries, but not like this — it just keeps growing and won’t peak,” said Kevin Day, a pomegranate expert at the University of California, Davis.

Like blueberries, cranberries and green tea, pomegranates are thought to be healthy because they are loaded with antioxidants, which protect cells from damage by compounds called free radicals.

Pomegranates — about the size of an apple, with a thick, reddish skin and hundreds of seeds embedded in tough, white pulp — grow in temperate climates in the fall and winter. U.S. domestic supply comes largely from California’s San Joaquin Valley, augmented by imports from Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, Greece and Mexico.

In the past, fresh pomegranates disappeared from U.S. stores in spring and summer. While the fruit thrives in the Southern Hemisphere and India, those countries had not exported it in large quantities until last week.

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Even now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will not permit pomegranates from India to be imported as a whole fruit, because of health risks from possible pests, so processors there remove the seeds, which are then flown in chilled containers to the United States.

Nicholas Kotsianas, manager of the Garden of Eden market in Manhattan, was ecstatic when the first off-season seeds came in last week.

“It’s like fashion, it’s all the rage,” he said. “But this is here to stay.”

A day after he got 100 pounds of seeds, his store sold out despite the high price: $5.99 for a 4.4-ounce plastic container. He immediately ordered another 100 pounds.

It’s not just the seeds that are popular. Annual sales of pomegranate juice sold by California-based POM have risen from $12 million a year in 2003 to more than $100 million.

In the past two years, “pomegranates have exploded in consumption as the public has found out about the health benefits,” said Dorn Wenninger, vice president of the international division of importer S. Katzman Produce.

The Fairway Market, a gourmet grocer with four stores in the New York area, usually sells about 10,000 pounds of whole pomegranates a week during the peak U.S. season. This past week, Fairway bought 300 pounds of the shipment.

“We try to keep up with demand — so we buy as much as is available,” said Peter Romano, Fairway’s produce director.

Until a few years ago, only about 5 percent of Americans had ever tasted pomegranates.

Now, with its health benefits touted everywhere from scientific studies to the media, pomegranate has been popping up in the most unexpected places — infusing shampoo, tea, truffles, ice cream and even chewing gum and beer. More commonly, the seeds are used in salads and marinades and to garnish other dishes.

Kotsianas uses pomegranate juice for ham glaze and the fresh seeds with arugula and parmesan in salads.

“That little crunch is interesting to the palate,” he said.

When is Pomegranate Season?

Pomegranate Basics

The pomegranate is a thick-skinned fruit – actually a type of berry – with multiple fleshy cells that contain seeds and sweet-tart red or pink flesh. Native to Iran – the ancient country of Persia – pomegranates can easily be grown in USDA Zones 8 to 10. You can also grow container plants in colder regions and move them indoors for the winter.

The US Pomegranate Harvest

Most commercial pomegranates in the US are grown in California. The counties of Tulare, Kern, Fresno, imperial and Riverside produce most of the fruit. Wonderful is the most common commercial variety, although Granada is also becoming popular. These fruits are typically available from October through January.

Imported Pomegranate Season

Many of the countries that grow pomegranates commercially are located in the Southern Hemisphere and have a season that is the opposite of the season in the US. India is the world’s largest commercial pomegranate producer. Growers in India focus on six varieties: Ganesh, Mridula, Arakta, Ruby, Phule Bhagwa, and Phule Bhagwa Super. These are available from March to May.

Growing Your Own

If you live in the right climate, it’s easy to grow pomegranates. Outside the warm regions they prefer, you can still grow them in containers or even indoors. Any soil is fine as long as it drains well – even heavy clay will work if amended with coarse sand. Pomegranates are drought-tolerant but produce better if watered weekly in dry climates. Use an organic mulch to promote fertility.

Choosing Pomegranate Varieties

Growing your own means you have many more choices. These varieties are easily found in nurseries and from specialty suppliers:

  • Wonderful – ripens in September.
  • Early Wonderful – blooms later but ripens two weeks ahead of Wonderful.
  • Granada – ripens in August.
  • Emek – Israeli variety, ripens in July.
  • Valenciana – Spanish variety, ripens in August.

Extending the Season

In addition to choosing varieties that mature at different times, you have a couple of options to extend the pomegranate season. Even if you live in a pomegranate-friendly climate, you can plant some smaller varieties in containers and move them indoors in fall – pomegranates will continue to flower as long as they have enough light. You can also grow them in a sun-room or greenhouse.

Storing Pomegranates

Although the actual season for fresh pomegranates is relatively short compared to some fruits, you can extend it by proper storage. Fruit with intact rinds can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four weeks. The arils can be frozen for up to a year. Fresh seeded pomegranate should be eaten within two or three days.

It’s pomegranate season! This beautiful fruit, known for its rich pink color, crowned top, and ruby edible pearls, known as arils, has been cherished around the world for centuries for its taste, versatility, health benefits, and cultural significance.

Because pomegranate fits so well into the holistically healthy lifestyle that Nanoosh stands for, we have incorporated it into our Fattoush Salad, which is available only while pomegranate is in season. Eating food that is in season means that the ingredients are at their nutritional peak, you will eat a greater variety of foods, and you will likely be supporting sustainable farmers.

While pomegranate has gained popularity around the world due to the marketing of pomegranate juice, there is a rich history and folklore connected to the yummy fruit.

History of Pomegranate

Pomegranate is a fruit related to few others – it belongs to the Punicaceae family, which includes only one genus and two species. The trees they come from grow to about 20 to 30ft tall, and some have been known to live for two centuries! In the northern hemisphere, the trees produce fruit from about September to February, which is why you will find it in our seasonal Fattoush Salad.

Pomegranate has been around for about 8000 years, The pomegranate tree has its origins in the area spanning Iran and the Himalayas, though it has been cultivated in ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region.

The pomegranate fruit is believed to have powerful properties, and, as a result, it is used to symbolize abstractions like passion, prosperity, hope and abundance in many religious texts and mythology. In the Babylonian Talmud, it was carried across the desert with groups of traveling people so they may find solace in pomegranate’s thirst-quenching fruit.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, it expanded into Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and tropical Africa, and eventually to the West Indies and Central and South America.

Popularity and Uses

The popularity of pomegranate fruit and fruit juice has fluctuated over the past century; however it remains a staple in the Middle East and Mediterranean region. Getting the juicy seeds out of the hard outer layer is laborious for some, though for others, like in the Italian culture, it is a family activity.

In Iran, pomegranate juice is a popular beverage. It is traditionally obtained by crushing or pressing the seeds in a basket press.

In North America, pomegranate is seen as quite an exotic fruit choice. However, because some companies have chosen to bottle and commercialize pomegranate juice in the United States, it is a bit more accessible in a processed form.

Benefits

Even if you enjoy pomegranate juice now and again, there is nothing like eating the whole fruit. One fruit contains 45% of your Daily Value of Fiber, 48% of Vitamin C, and a surprising 5 grams of protein. It is also rich in Vitamin K, Folate, B Vitamins, and a range of minerals. They also have three types of antioxidants, which will support overall health.

Eating Seasonal Foods

As we mentioned earlier, eating foods that are in season means that they are at their nutritional peak. If you eat seasonal foods throughout the year, you will eat a greater variety of foods, and you will more likely be supporting sustainable farmers. For this reason, Nanoosh incorporates seasonal foods into its menu throughout the year. Don’t let the pomegranate season go by without giving it a try!

As someone who has experience working in a retail produce, there are several questions that are commonly asked.

One of the most frequent one is how to tell if a fruit is ripe or not.

It is topic of confusion for many people. Which is understable. Not every piece of fruit ripens the same way.

Some fruit ripen on the tree, some won’t ripen until well after their picked, some change color, some look the same, and it goes on. People are worried they will take something home and find out they don’t like – whether not sweet enough, soft enough, ripe enough, flavorful enough, etc.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there too that people believe in when it comes to ripeness (don’t get me started on pineapples!). Since they are now coming into season and people want to know, I want to address today how to tell when a pomegranate is ripe. Learn how to pick one out in the store and when it is ready to eat when you take it home.

How to Tell When a Pomegranate is Ripe

In doing some research on the subject, I have seen a mixed opinions on the manner. People offer their advice on the right moment a pomegranate is ripe. They think it should look a certain way. However pomegranates are a fruit that ripens on the tree and not off the tree.

When you buy one in the store or at a market, they are ready to eat immediately. You don’t have to leave them out on the counter, or put them in a paper bag, or anything like that. It’s go time right from the get go.

The one of the left is older than the one on the right.

How to Pick a Pomegranate at the Store

When picking fruit something I always tell people is to pick up the fruit, place it in the palm of your hand, how does it feel? Does it feel heavy for it’s size? You want that answer to be yes and that means it’s full of juice, and we love our fruit juicy, right?

As it comes to the skin, you want to look for something without any soft spots. Sometimes you will see a crack near the top of the fruit as long as it doesn’t go through the fruit, your fine. In fact, I heard that this is what pomegranates do as they hang on the tree, so I might even suggest you look for this as this is a sign the pomegranate has been on the tree longer.

Pomegranates that will be shipped across the country may be picked early than ideal. If you live in a place that pomegranates can grow I suggest picking them from your local farmer’s market. They are most likely to have spend more time on the tree before being picked.

A box of pomegranates at Costco. When you buy a lot you may want to refridge them so they last longer.

Pomegranates can be left out and be fine, but they will last longest if you refrigerate them whole. You get quite a long time out of a pomegranate if keep it chilled, up to 3 months!

2 Easy Ways to Open and Seed a Pomegranate

There are two simple ways to remove pomegranate seeds — with a spoon or knife.

With a spoon

One popular and easy method for removing pomegranate seeds involves using a wooden spoon.

First, cut the fruit in half around the middle. Then, hold it over a bowl with the seed side facing down.

Firmly hit the pomegranate skin with the back of a wooden spoon until all the seeds have fallen out.

You can fill the bowl halfway with water, so the seeds to sink to the bottom while pieces of the pith float to the top. This makes it easier to separate the seeds.

Rinse and strain the seeds to remove any unwanted pith remnants. Now, the arils are ready to enjoy.

Scoring with a knife

Another equally popular and effective method of retrieving pomegranate seeds is to use a knife to score the fruit.

First, using a paring knife, remove the little stem at the top of the fruit, which is known as the flower.

Then, score the sides by cutting the skin between the ridges from top to bottom. If you can’t feel the ridges, simply make about six evenly spaced cuts around the fruit.

To prevent the juices from escaping, don’t make the cuts too deep.

Next, grip the fruit and place your thumbs at the top where the flower was. Gently pull apart the fruit to separate the sections.

It may be helpful to do this over a bowl so all the loose seeds are caught.

To continue, peel off the white membrane that surrounds each section of seeds.

Lastly, working over a bowl or clean surface, pull the edges of each section back towards you to push the seeds out and into the bowl.

Depending on the ripeness of the fruit and how easily the seeds come out, you may have to gently rub some of the seeds to detach them.

Now, they’re ready to enjoy.

Summary You can remove the tasty pomegranate seeds from the fruit using the wooden spoon or paring knife methods.

A Guide to Local Fruit in Texas

May 11, 2018 FILED UNDER:

  • HEALTHY LIFESTYLE

By Whisper Lettuce Farm Manager Kylie Treekin

With almost 300,000 square miles, Texas provides a wide range of agricultural goods across the entire state. Nearly any vegetable you’d like could be grown somewhere in this great state. But with local fruit, things can be a bit more limited. Particularly, during the winter months when only Grapefruit and some oranges are available. While still delicious, the same citrus can get a tad boring for a period of almost 3 months! Starting in late February, however, the varieties start to improve. So, we’d like to take you through the fruit growing calendar here in Texas so you can know what and when to expect those delicious and nutritious treats!

Apples

Beginning in July and running through November, America’s favorite fruit, the Apple, comes into season here in Texas. A good variety can be grown throughout the state, but are primarily grown in North Texas, where the winter frost is a bit more predictable. Many varieties require some frost for the fruit to develop properly. Here in Texas, Apples will get sweeter the longer they are on the tree. Be on the lookout for Gala Apples beginning in July, Fuji’s in September, and Granny Smith in October. When the season is in full swing, you can head out to the hill country and do some apple-picking yourself!

Berries

Each kind of berry has its own season. Blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries are the most common types found in Texas. Strawberries come first in the year, beginning as early as late February and produce into mid-May. These plump red fruits can be found at just about any Texan Farmer’s Market during their season.

Blackberries are up next starting in late April and ending in mid-June. Blackberries grow well in all Texas soils and wild varieties can be found in some places.

Blueberries come into season during the month of May and are available into July. The tiny blue fruits are bit fickler than the other two and are mostly grown in the East and Southeastern parts of the state.

Citrus

Texas is known for its giant Ruby Red Grapefruit. In fact, it’s the official state fruit as well as a symbol of Texas agriculture. The Grapefruit season lasts longer than any other fruit in Texas, running from November to May. Aside from the sweet, deep red flesh of the Ruby Red, Grapefruit in Texas also come in a paler, sweet pink, and a tart white.

Oranges are also quite abundant in the lone star state, especially in the southern regions. Their season starts a bit earlier in October with the Navel variety and continues into May with the Valencia variety. The Hamlin and super sweet Pineapple oranges are also commonly found in Texas.

Tangerines, which are similar to mandarin oranges in look and flavor, grow from October to January. The Tangelo, a knobby topped hybrid of tangerines and grapefruits, can be found for a short time during the winter months, November thru January.

Figs

The small, dark purple, cosmic fruit (close up it looks like the night sky) is most commonly eaten dried as fresh figs have a short shelf life. But if you’re lucky and time it just right, you may be able to find some in central and southern Texas. Three varieties, Alma, Celeste, and Texas Everbearing, produce decent crops. However, figs can take quite a beating when the frost comes. Depending on the variety, Fig season will start in mid-June through August and some trees may produce a second crop in the Fall.

Grapes

The Texas Hill-Country has a thriving wine industry and Texas is the oldest state growing grapes. However, grapes for the table are more rare, but not impossible to find. Muscadine grapes are well adapted to the East Texas and Gulf Coast climate. However, growing grapes at home may be a bit easier than finding them at a Farmer’s Market. Like much of the world, grape harvest typically start in late August and continue through September and into early October at the latest.

Melons

If the Grapefruit wasn’t the state fruit, it would certainly be a melon. Nothing says summertime quite like a crisp, delicious melon on a hot Texan day. Melons thrive and produce abundantly throughout the state. Cantaloupes, Honeydew, and Watermelon are among the most common varieties but if you look hard enough you may find some Canary, Christmas (Toadskin), or other melons at a Farmer’s Market. You can expect melons to start showing up as early as May and continue well into October and even November during warmer fall seasons.

Stone Fruits

A drupe, or more commonly known as stone fruit, is a tree fruit with an outer fleshy part and a hardened pit or stone inside that encloses a seed kernel. Think; peaches, plums, cherries, even mangoes. Here in Texas, the top performing stone fruit is the peach, followed by plums, with the occasional nectarine, cherry, or pluot. Both the flowers and fruits produce some of the most brilliant and beautiful colors of the entire fruit tree kingdom. However, early blooms can be damaged by a late spring frost, so crop yields can vary with how long the winter lasts.

Peaches are quite abundant throughout Texas. With over 20 varieties that start to ripen in May and continue through August, the sweet, yellow-red-orange, fuzzy flesh is a delicious and nutritious treat all summer long. Peach varieties are often referenced by their “cling,” or how much the flesh sticks to the pit. Each variety is considered either cling, semi-free, or free. While this does not affect the flavor, it may change the eating experience (freestones are easier to eat). So be on the lookout for the clinging Flavorich and Regal varieties in early May and the freestone, white-fleshed Southern Pear variety in June!

Plums are the second most available stone fruit in Texas and come in a few varieties, and are mostly Japanese hybrids (as opposed to European). With colors ranging from deep purple to yellowish orange, these sweet and tart fruits start to show up in late May or early June and continue producing through July. Since plums must be cross-pollinated, where you find one variety you are sure to find another.

Nectarines are fuzz-less peach. While distinct they are considered a mutation, not a hybrid of the peach. Varieties are also regarded as cling or freestone. Due to their susceptibility to wind damage and disease, Nectarines are not as abundant in Texas. Look for them starting in late May and through the end of July.

Apricots and Cherries require more chilling than Texas can often provide, so their availability is rare. However, that does not mean it is impossible, they are just likely to find in much smaller quantities. Perhaps you’ll meet a nice farmer that has a few trees on their farm and they will let have a few pounds during the months of June and July.

Pluots are a hybrid between apricots and plums. Their color can range from the bold yellow-orange of an apricot to the deep purple of plums. Much like nectarines, their availability can vary with the steep temperature swings we experience in Texas. Start keeping an eye out during the months of June and July for these sweet and colorful fruits.

Photo: Bapak Alex

Pears

Pears are one of the few fruits that produce well in all regions of the state. Some trees have even outlasted the homes they were planted by. There are two distinct types of Pears: European and Asian. Different varieties for each are adapted for different regions of Texas, but the Hill Country and West Texas provide the best conditions.

European Pears commonly come in shades of green with sweet fragrance and softer flesh. Think Bartlett or Bosc, however, these common varieties do not grow well in Texas. Some great varieties to look for include Moonglow, Maxine, and Warren. Most ripen in August and some in September.

Asian Pears have more shades of brown, have flesh that is crisp and apple-like, and some are even shaped more like an apple than a pear. Many varieties have been well adapted to the Texan climate but some of the top performers include 20th Century (Nijisseiki) and Housi. These pears begin to ripen a few weeks earlier, starting in mid-July.

Persimmons

Persimmons are a small orange fruit that looks like a cross between an apple, an orange, and a tomato! There are native varieties, the American Persimmon and Texas Persimmon. These varieties grow wildly in Texas and the arider southern U.S. However, the Oriental Persimmon is the more common variety found in stores. Many of the Oriental varieties adapted to Texas produce seedless fruits with colors ranging from yellow to deep red. The earliest varieties begin to ripen in September with most ripening in late October or November.

Pomegranates grow very well in places with long dry summers. Something we have in abundance here in Texas. They are unique in shape, color, and taste. Many refer to them as a superfood due to their high content of antioxidants. With each passing year, a single tree will produce higher and higher yields. The early-ripening varieties will be ready in late September and continue through October and November for the later ripening ones.

While this guide is not totally comprehensive, it does cover the fruits that most people in Texas will be able to find at Farmers Markets or other local sources. Other, less commonly found fruits that can grow in Texas include the Jujube, loquats, kumquats, pawpaws, mayhaws, papayas, and bananas. These fruits are either not produced commercially or have inconsistent crops. With so many wonderful varieties of fruit available here in Texas, we hope you get the chance to try them all!

Are you curious about Whisper Valley’s on-site farms and gardens? Contact us today to learn more!

Growing pomegranates in East Texas

Pomegranates are not at all a typical fruit to see growing on East Texas land for sale, but their recent surge in popularity – due to the pomegranate’s many nutritional benefits – have brought quite a few folks into the TAMU AgriLife office with questions about how and where to grow this unique fruit.

“The pomegranate is known for a variety of notable health benefits.”

Pomegranates originate from the Middle East and central-western Asia, from Iran to the Himalayas. As such, they are widely referenced in ancient societal and religious materials across the world, ranging from the Christian Bible to certain Hindu texts. (A handful of people believe the fruit from the knowledge tree in the Biblical book of Genesis was a pomegranate, not an apple, but it’s not like we’ll ever know that for sure either way.)

Widely cultivated throughout the Mediterranean, the fruit was introduced to the Americas by Spanish missionaries during the 16th century. Texas, due to its proximity to Mexico and thus the rest of Latin America, was probably the first area of the U.S. to grow pomegranates. The “Wonderful” variety of pomegranates we often hear about today was named by a grower from Florida, who moved to California in 1896 and expanded his fruit business to the West Coast.

Pomegranates don’t naturally grow in East Texas, but it’s entirely possible to plant the seeds that produce their bushes or trees.

To get started in your backyard, you’ll only need one pomegranate, as they are self-pollinating. While pomegranates can grow on small trees, they more commonly emerge as the fruit of a bushy shrub. If you want more than one and space is limited, you can plant them as a hedge.

The leaves are deciduous, usually glossy and dark green. Also, the colorful, orange-red flowers and their tendency toward dense, bushy growth make the pomegranate an attractive ornamental for some striking country living decor.

This plant will produce lots of suckers near the soil, so frequent pruning is a must for the pomegranate tree or shrub. The pruning process must be started soon after planting to maintain a single trunk – otherwise so many suckers will have developed that it will be difficult to change.

Pomegranate is common to the tropics, subtropics and subtemperate regions and is well-adapted to areas with hot, dry summers. It is also considerably more cold-hardy than citrus plants, for example.

In a nutshell, the pomegranate works in practically any soil that has good internal drainage. (This means the plants may not grow well on heavy-clay soils.) They require minimal spraying or fertilization, and as such can be grown organically quite easily. The only real problem you may face is splitting fruit, which could be a particularly troublesome issue under any high-rainfall conditions.

While Wonderful is the old standby for pomegranate seeds, don’t be afraid to consider planting a newer variety. Some that should do well include Aperoski, Cloud, Kandahar Early, Russian #8, Russian #18 and Texas Pink.

You can plant seeds from a container any time of the year when soil moisture is available. Use a hole that’s the same depth as but a little wider than the pot. Place the root ball in and backfill with the existing soil and water it well. Be sure to add a few inches of mulch to keep competing vegetation away at least three feet on each side. This will also keep moisture in and moderate soil temperatures.

When to harvest pomegranates?

Q: My wonderful pomegranate typically bears fruit every year and that is great! However, last year, all of the fruits are brown inside rather than red.

This year the tree has yielded a lot of flowers, promising a lot of fruits. I wonder what I should do to prevent last year’s issue from happening again.

A: It may be that you are waiting too long to harvest. As the fruit becomes overmature, some of the arils will get as you describe. You may also have a touch of heart rot on the fruit. A copper spray at bloom tends to reduce this disease.

Q: What is a good combination of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to buy and mix fertilizer for pot blooming flowers and in the ground lantana?

A: For container plants, I recommend one of the Osmocote slow-release fertilizers such as Osmocote Outdoor & Indoor Smart-Release Plant Food which is 19-6-12. This can also be used around the lantana but any granular lawn fertilizer would be fine.

Q: I have a couple of cilantro plants that we just transplanted and the leaves on the top are rather lacy looking. Does that mean they may be bolting and, if it is, can I stop it?

A: Yes that is what is happening and there is nothing that you can do to prevent it. Cilantro is a cool-season plant and a few warm/hot days can cause it to bolt — that is, flower and make seed.

Q: I have a blueberry bush in soil composed of two-thirds peat moss and one-third sand. I have a raised bed designated for acid loving plants only. I have several bags of peat and of peat moss.

Is this do-able and if so, would I need to combine anything else with the peat? Would watering them with water that contained a minute amount of vinegar to acidify the water work with our extreme heat in the summer?

A: That should be doable. If the raised bed is deep enough that the roots will not grow out into alkaline soil, the plants should prosper. You will either need to use a catchment system for rain water to use for irrigation or, as you suggest, acidify the water by using vinegar.

Q: We have grass that died and is filled with solid acorns. Is this the reason the grass won’t grow?

A: More than likely, the grass died because of the shade under the oak tree.

David Rodriguez is the county extension agent-horticulture for Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Call the Bexar County Master Gardeners Hotline at 467-6575, email questions to [email protected], or visit the county extension website at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu.

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