They may look like little red apples, but slice a pomegranate open and inside you’ll literally find the fruit of your labours – hundreds a tiny tasty seeds, or arils as they’re officially known.
While the leathery skin is inedible, the clusters of ruby-red seeds inside are the real stars of the pomegranate, providing a sweet taste, balanced with a slight tartness.
Originating in the region of modern day Iran, pomegranates have always been popular throughout the Middle East and their recent emergence as a nutritious superfood packed with antioxidants and vitamins has catapulted them into the global spotlight.
The best thing is, this sweet and juicy fruit is grown right here in Oman, on the slopes of Jebel Akhdar, making them readily available at local supermarkets. What’s even better is that pomegranate season is upon us.
Pomegranates grow on deciduous shrubs or small trees between five and eight metres tall and Oman’s crops are harvested between September and October, meaning they’ll be making their way to a market near you very soon. Good quality, reasonably priced pomegranates can be found at Nizwa Souq, but a pleasant weekend trip up the Green Mountain can be rounded off perfectly with some delicious freshly picked pomegranates bought directly from the farmers themselves, who sell their produce at the roadside.
One of the oldest fruits around, the use of pomegranates can be traced back to ancient times and the fruit has long been revered as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life in cultures around the world, according to Dr Joel Fuhrman, an American doctor and author who specialises in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods.
Pomegranate seeds provide a fruity crunch and are a great addition to cold dishes and salads, or can be juiced to create nutrient dense smoothies and other drinks. Another great use of pomegranates is to create a sticky glaze when roasting meats like lamb and duck.
Preparing pomegranates can often seem like a lot of effort for little reward. Both the skin and the creamy yellow pith are inedible, leaving only the seeds, but if you put in the work, not only your taste buds, but also your body will be more than well compensated.
One cup of pomegranate seeds (174g) contains: