She has no trouble attracting a mate, what with her blushing scarlet skin and full, sensuous body. Prising her open is quite the challenge, as she protects her virtue very well. Cut through the fleshy exterior to find a thin, bitter tasting membrane. Peel this back to reveal the real treasure - her glistening ruby red seeds.
Welcome to the pleasures of eating a pomegranate, the ‘fertility fruit’ originating in Persia. Such was her beauty that she (or rather 'it') warranted a mention in the Book of Exodus, Homer’s Hymns and Shakespeare. The pomegranate is so lusciously fulsome, it reminds me of a fertility figure we saw some years back at the ancient Tarxien Temples in Malta.
Not only are they beautiful, but pomegranates are very good from you, with claims that they have everything from anti-ageing to anti-cancer properties.
It’s Autumn and pomegranates are flourishing in Melbourne. The seeds can sometimes be bitter and sour, but when you hit on a good one, the seeds will be sweet and aromatic. The best one I have had is one that my mother bought over recently.
The pomegranate tree in her garden grew from a tree we had in the garden of our first home. This in turn was given to us by a friend’s dad. I love this whole ‘going around’ business, as if the tree has its own history that can be traced back through the hands that have passed it on. If you come across a tree that bears good fruit, take a cutting. Simply snap off a branch from the bottom of the tree, at the point where it shoots out from the stem. Place this in a glass of water for a few days, then in a pot until it sprouts leaves. Plant into the ground. Say a little prayer to the fertility goddess and hope for the best.
How can you use the pomegranate seeds I hear you ask? Eat them a la naturale (my daughter sits there for ages, prising the seeds out), toss them in a salad, or make a sweet pomegranate syrup. In Middle Eastern cooking, a tangy pomegranate syrup is used to add flavour to stews.
Finally, for those of you wondering how to prise the pomegranate open, simply insert a knife into the flower-like top – when this is about an inch into the flesh, gently twist the knife and the pomegranate will break open in two – but be careful, your blushing beauty is very delicate.
Sciroppo di Pomegranate (Pomegranate Syrup)*
2kg of pomegranates, 4kg of sugar
Break the pomegranates and squeeze by hand. Leave juice in a pot for 24 hours. Filter through a muslin cloth. Place in a pot with twice its weight of sugar. Boil for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and bottle.
PS I haven’t yet tried this recipe – if any one does, please write in and let Tribal Tomato know how you went.
*from Preserving the Italian Way by Pietro Demaio