Pomegranates are one of the most unique fruit one can enjoy. Hanging on the tree, they resemble beautiful deep red Christmas bulbs. Open one up, and you’re met with gorgeous flesh covered seeds called “arils”, which resemble ruby jewels more than a juicy and tasty fruit. Pomegranate arils come with a variety of nutritional benefits, and are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins (C,K) and antioxidants.
We grow 3 types of pomegranate in our TBG orchard: “Wonderful” (the most common and commercially grown cultivar), “Sweet“, and “Parfianka” (hands down, the best pomegranate I’ve tried!). Because it’s such a unique fruit, many people have trouble detecting whether or not a pomegranate is ripe and ready for harvest. This article will share a few tried and true tips to picking the perfect pomegranate.
The first indicator I look for in choosing a pomegranate is Color. I gravitate toward those which are a deeper red than the others around them. Take a look at the area where the stem meets the pomegranate. Is it still green? If so, give it some more time. If its color matches the rest of the fruit, move on to the next step
As a pomegranate grows, the arils inside will expand, pressing against the outer skin. A ripe pomegranate will generally take on a more angular, slightly cube-ish shape.
If the shape is looks about right, a very telling indicator for ripeness is sound. By flicking the fruit, you can get a good idea of whether or not a pomegranate is ripe. In fact, among similar looking pomegranates, sound has been the most reliable indicator of a ripe pomegranate for me. A pomegranate’s sound will go from a dull thud to a more hollow “wood block” sound. Some people describe the sound as metallic, but it reminds me more of the percussion instrument. This change in sound means 2 things: 1) The skin is being pulled more tightly across the fruit, like a drum, and 2) The arils are swelling with juice, allowing sound to transmit better than through the soft pith.
Finally, you’ll want to choose a pomegranate by weight. Select a pomegranate that feels heavy for its size. Weight is a good indicator of juice filled arils. To physically pick your fruit, you’ll want to use a sharp pair of pruning shears or snips, and cut the stem off close to the base. Your pomegranate will last a couple weeks after harvesting, though the skin does get more tough and difficult to work with as it ages. Now it’s time to eat it!
You may be like me, where extracting each aril is an enjoyable activity. For others, this sounds terrible! If you just want the juice, the easiest way to juice a pomegranate is to cut a pomegranate in half along its “equator” and to use a sturdy citrus press. Whatever way you enjoy them most, pomegranates are a tasty, healthy treat!