When one thinks of the bounty of fall harvest many fruits and vegetables come to mind.
Fall is known for such produce as apples, squash and of course, the quintessential fall pumpkin. These fruits and vegetables have become synonymous with the fall season, as they are at peak flavor and freshness from September through the winter months.
However, the more exotic fall produce, the pomegranate, is also at peak flavor for the relatively short season of September to November, offering unique flavor, texture and nutrition.
Although many equate the pomegranate more with the winter holiday season (as they are often still available in stores through December) the pomegranate is a true fall harvest produce.
Pomegranates require a lot of heat and sunlight to grow, making summer the perfect growing season, ending with of course, a fall harvest.
Originally from the Middle East, pomegranates are now grown in many mild temperature climates.
Those who have never experienced a fresh pomegranate, they are missing out on quite a treat, but this unusual fruit can be a bit intimidating to try for the unadventurous eater.
Underneath the perfect hue of deep, autumn red skin, you will find a dense collection of edible, juice-encased seeds (aka pips).
Although it is perfectly safe to eat the thick skin or the white pithy part of a pomegranate, it is bitter, and most people choose to discard it. The most desirable part to consume is the juice and seeds inside.
To open a pomegranate, cut it in half, hold it over a bowl and tap the backside with a spoon to release the seeds.
The best description of a pomegranate flavor would be a sweet-tart flavor. Depending on the variety and the degree of ripeness, a pomegranate flavor profile can change from sugary-sweet to bold and sour, much like a raw cranberry.
When purchasing pomegranates, look for large, heavy, deeply-colored fruit. Pomegranates that have these qualities will have a better proportion of clear, red juice and crisp pulp. The skin should be tough but thin, almost bursting with seeds.
To test for freshness, gently press the skin of the fruit. If it releases a powdery cloud, it is a sign of an overmatured pomegranate and will most likely be dry and not juicy.
Besides great taste and unique texture, the pomegranate boasts an impressive level of immune-boosting antioxidants, much more significant than the average fall apple or pear. The nutritional profile of the pomegranate is so impressive that it has recently been classified as a superfood.
Overall, pomegranates are low in calories and fat, but high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
A half cup serving has only 72 calories, 1 gram of fat, 3.5 grams of fiber and 1.5 grams of protein.
They are also a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C and B9.
Rich in antioxidants, eating pomegranates is a great way to support overall health and help prevent disease.
In fact, studies show that adding pomegranates to your diet can help support a healthy heart, digestive system, urinary health, as well as improve endurance and recovery.
Keep in mind, although pomegranate juice has many of the same nutritional values, it will lack the fiber and vitamin C you will get from eating the fruit rather than just consuming the juice.
It is easy to stock up on fresh pomegranate while it is readily available, as it has a fairly long shelf life.
Pomegranate can be kept at room temperature for 3 to 5 days, or refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to three weeks. Seeds can be kept frozen for 3 to 6 months.
Adding pomegranate to your daily diet is simple. The gem-like pomegranate seeds are easily incorporated into many dishes, adding extra flavor, color and nutrition to your everyday meals.
At breakfast, pomegranate seeds are easy to blend into yogurt, or top off pancakes and waffles.
Stir in a few spoonfuls to brighten up a boring bowl of oatmeal.
Toss pomegranate seeds with green salad or fruit salad for a colorful change at lunch time.
Pomegranate seeds make a perfect garnish for roasted or grilled meats, and incorporate well in many dessert recipes.
You can even make cocktail hour nutritionally valuable as pomegranate seeds and juice blend well in sangria and many cocktail and mocktail recipes.
This fall, while getting your fill of pumpkin latte and apple crisp, don’t overlook the refreshing sweet-tart taste of seasonable, fresh pomegranate. Adding this unique flavor profile and nutritional punch to your fall menu is a refreshing change from the old stand- by fall produce.
For easy recipes to incorporate fresh pomegranate into your diet, visit www.insanelygoodrecipes.com/pomegranate.