Adrian loves pomegranates. He has planted several varieties on our property. The most common variety is called the Wonderful pomegranate. We recently also planted some Utah Sweet and Parfianka pomegranates. The Utah Sweet has incredibly dark color, and the Parfianka has arils (the seeds) that are very soft and small, not hard and
crunchy like your typical pomegranate. We tasted about 30 varieties of
pomegranates that we obtained from an experimental orchard and we liked these
ones the most. We were able to find them at Harmony Farm Supply which is a
small nursery in Sebastopol.
Often the pomegranates you buy in the store have been picked before they are fully ripe. The best pomegranates are the ones that are so ripe they have started to crack. Obviously at this point they do not store well but this is when the color is the darkest and they are the most sweet.
We use most of the pomegranates we grow to make juice. We love to
mix the juice with tonic water, or spirits such as vodka or tequila to make
cocktails. It also can be boiled down to make pomegranate syrup to use in
We tried using citrus presses and other easy methods to make
the juice, but we have found that the skin and pulp impart bitter flavors to the juice
so we have gone back to using this somewhat laborious method which involves
first removing the seeds from the pomegranate, then getting juice from the
Here is how we get the seeds from the pomegranate:
First we remove the skin from the top and bottom of the
pomegranate. We cut around the circumference but only through the skin, not
deep enough to cut the seeds. This will prevent the task from becoming a big
Now we peel off the skin. Notice the seeds are whole.
If you dry the seeds on a cloth and then store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator, with folded paper towels on the top of the seeds, they can last for weeks. You can sprinkle them on salad, on your yogurt and oatmeal or just grab handfuls for snacks.
If you want to take it to the next level, you can make juice.
Here is a huge soup pot filled with pomegranate seeds ready for making juice.
Adrian often does this job while he is watching TV. He covers the sofa with a sheet because he prefers to not use the water, so it can become a somewhat messy job. Check out that sheet.
The juice can be made with either raw or cooked
pomegranates. We have found it is somewhat sweeter if we cook them. If you are planning to make juice and do not have a juice press, you should heat them to get the maximum yield. Put a small of water in the bottom of the pot, smash them down slightly with a potato masher to release more liquid, put on the cover, and slowly heat the pomegranates, stirring occasionally, until they have broken down but have not boiled, and the juice has been released. Then let them cool.
These are the pomegranates after heating and cooling. They are now ready to be pressed.
The seeds are then placed into a juice bag which we
purchased, along with our little tabletop press, at The Beverage People, which
is in Santa Rosa. www.thebeveragepeople.com. You can also use a large piece of muslin if you are planning to squeeze the juice by hand.
Before we had this tabletop press, we used a large old wine
press we had, and before that we just used muslin or a cloth bag and squeezed by hand. The little tabletop press is by far the best way to go when you have a lot of pomegranates and are planning to make juice every year.
If you are doing this by hand, just place the pomegranate seeds in a fine mesh strainer and let the juice run out freely. Then put the seeds in a bag or in the middle of a large muslin piece and twist the top until the juice is squeezed out of the bag. Continue to twist and squeeze the bag or fabric until you can get as much juice out as possible. You can get about 3/4 of the juice out without using a press. We got about 1 cup of juice per pound of seeds squeezing by hand. This is the seeds from 2 large pomegranates.
We put the bag of pomegranate seeds in the press, gradually
screw it down to create pressure on the seeds and the juice runs out of the
spout into our collection device.
Nutrition Note: pomegranates are high in phytonutrients
associated with a reduction in disease. Much of the strongest research has suggested that eating pomegranates or drinking the juice can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. The research on prostate cancer has been especially promising.