Bursting Beauties

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Virgil Evetts

I’ve never been able to make my mind up about pomegranates. They’re a fruit I feel I really ought to like, with their good looks and ancient pedigree, but, I’ve always been somewhat underwhelmed. While visually arresting to say the least, most of the fruit I’ve tried were insipid and marred by unpleasantly woody seeds.

But last week in my local supermarket I happened upon a new product that has changed my opinion completely – vacuum packed fresh pomegranate seeds from India.  Oh, I know I’ve railed against pre-prepared fruit in the past, but have you ever tried to deal with a fresh pomegranate? Total pain the south passage. I haven’t been so excited about a new food product in a very long time.

I had great plans to sprinkle the jewel-like capsules of ruby juice over a dessert or maybe a pilaf, but anything other than immediate and copious consumption was quickly forgotten. The tightly packed juice capsules explode in the mouth with an almost audible pop, flooding the palate with their gorgeous, berry-wine flavoured contents. Better still; the seeds are of this variety are only very slightly harder than passion fruit seeds. Standing together at the bench, my best beloved and I finished off the entire punnet and I was off down the supermarket for another shortly afterwards.

Up until now fresh pomegranates have only been available in New Zealand in the form of whole fruit imported from California. The predominant variety grown in California is ‘Wonderful’, a perfectly pleasant fruit, but known for its rather tough seeds.  Pomegranates are really more novelty than serious contender for the fruit bowl in western countries, and  most of don’t know any better than the passable mediocrity of Wonderful. In India and the Middle East however, the pomegranate is a popular and highly esteemed eating fruit, with many varieties (and colours- ranging from white to almost black) available for a range of different uses, including  juicing, drying and of course eating fresh. The best eating pomegranates have soft seeds and a complex winey flavour.

I’d be hard pressed to find reasons to emigrate to the Middle East these days. I fear my indefinable, could-be -Arabic features would probably get me shot as a ‘dissident’ (did Fox News invent this word?) or sent off to Guantanamo Bay  (STILL open BTW Barack) on a charge of suspicious possession of olive skin. But knowing now how good pomegranates can be, I could just about take that risk- especially if it meant easy access to the truely seedless cultivars I’m told they grow in the region.  But alas, I’m bound by family, mortgage and  a modicum of sanity to stay in New Zealand. Until somebody starts importing axis of evil seedless pomegranates I guess I’ll just have to settle for those neatly packaged, soft-seeded jewels from India. Not such a sacrifice, let me tell you.

As is always the case when I’m impressed by a new fruit, I planted a few seeds of the luscious Indians.  Genetics are unpredictable with  selectively bred fruit trees so only time will tell…

Fresharin fresh pomegranate seeds 150gm punnets retail at around $5 and are distributed by Turners & Growers  to Selected fruit shops and Supermarkets.

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10 thoughts on “Bursting Beauties

  1. Why would you support the importation of a plastic punnet of fruit? This is shocking and shouldn’t be allowed or supported by anyone! If we can’t import it into NZ rubbish free, leave it at origin.

  2. They really are good. Your seedling story give sme hope, Lorna. The seeds have all germinated now- pretty much 100% strike rate so I’ll grow them on a select about a dozen of the best, to nurse through to fruiting age.
    I must go looking for those trees Jean. There used to be a very large and presumably old one in Devonport which produced masses of huge, sweet fruit. Unfortunatly it was cut down a few years ago.

  3. Wow I must go looking for these – I haven’t seen them at all and I tend to look at the whole fruit with trepidation and don’t get any further.
    I do really like pomegranate mollasses and use that in salad dressings. It comes in bottles from specialty food stores or Middle Eastern stores.

  4. About 6 years ago, while devouring a pomegranate of unknown parentage bought from the local supermarket, I dropped a sparkling red jewel on the kitchen floor. I didn’t find it till later and instead of throwing it in the kitchen scrap container I planted it. Duly looked after and transplanted through a range of pot sizes, it grew well, dropping its leaves every autumn and faithfully bursting into life again each spring. I kept it in a large pot until I moved to this, my new home, earlier this year when I planted it in its final position, in full sun and hopefully sheltered a bit from the gale force winds that seem to howl around the house at too-frequent intervals. Lo! A single, solitary bloom appeared, every bit as intense a blood red as the fruit from which it originated. Strangely, this bloom didn’t appear till almost the end of summer so I thought it unlikely to metamorphose into a glowing globe as it wouldn’t have time to grow and ripen before autumn. Sadly, it didn’t get much of a chance to ‘do its thing’, a strong wind blowing the bloom off after only a few days.
    I have higher hopes for it this summer. It’s already in bright green new leaf and I am going to surround it with protective shade cloth, but I won’t hold my breath. If I have no high expectations, how sweet will be the reward if those expectations are exceeded.

  5. As a young child just before WW2 I and my older sister used to visit our Grandparents every Sunday. For being good and travelling unaccompanied on the train our treat was a Pomegranate each, we loved them but had to wait to get home to eat them.The reason was that as they are full of iron we had to then clean our teeth afterwards.

  6. There is a pomegranate tree on manukau road just before it hits onehunga – I went to a garage sale there one day and the old owner told me the tree was planted from seed! There is also a pomegranate on waiheke that bears fruit – nit sure how it was propagated though – j’adore pomegranates!