Pomegranate Seeds (Punica granatum)
Price for Package of 10 seeds.
The pomegranate /ˈpɒmɨɡrænɨt/, botanical name Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between 5–8 meters (16–26 ft) tall.
The pomegranate is widely considered to have originated in the vicinity of Iran and has been cultivated since ancient times. Today, it is widely cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, the Middle East and Caucasus region, northern Africa and tropical Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia and the drier parts of southeast Asia. Introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranate is also cultivated in parts of California and Arizona.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the fruit is typically in season from September to February. In the Southern Hemisphere, the pomegranate is in season from March to May.
The pomegranate has been mentioned in many ancient texts, notably in Babylonian texts, the Book of Exodus, the Homeric Hymns and the Quran. In recent years, it has become more common in the commercial markets of North America and the Western Hemisphere.
Pomegranates are used in cooking, baking, juices, smoothies and alcoholic beverages, such as martinis and wine.
The Punica granatum leaves are opposite or sub-opposite, glossy, narrow oblong, entire, 3–7 cm long and 2 cm broad. The flowers are bright red, 3 cm in diameter, with four to five petals (often more on cultivated plants). Some fruitless varieties are grown for the flowers alone. The edible fruit is a berry and is between a lemon and a grapefruit in size, 5–12 cm in diameter with a rounded hexagonal shape, and has thick reddish skin. The exact number of seeds in a pomegranate can vary from 200 to about 1400 seeds, contrary to some beliefs that all pomegranates have exactly the same number of seeds. Each seed has a surrounding water-laden pulp—the edible sarcotesta that forms from the seed coat—ranging in color from white to deep red or purple. The seeds are embedded in a white, spongy, astringent membrane.
Punica granatum is grown as a fruit crop plant, and as ornamental trees and shrubs in parks and gardens. Mature specimens can develop sculptural twisted bark multi-trunks and a distinctive overall form. Pomegranates are drought-tolerant, and can be grown in dry areas with either a Mediterranean winter rainfall climate or in summer rainfall climates. In wetter areas, they can be prone to root decay from fungal diseases. They can be tolerant of moderate frost, down to about −12 °C (10 °F).
Insect pests of the pomegranate can include the pomegranate butterfly Virachola isocrates and the leaf-footed bug Leptoglossus zonatus. Pomegranate grows easily from seed, but is commonly propagated from 25–50 cm hardwood cuttings to avoid the genetic variation of seedlings. Air layering is also an option for propagation, but grafting fails.
Punica granatum var. nana is a dwarf variety of P. granatum popularly planted as an ornamental plant in gardens and larger containers, and used as a bonsai specimen tree. It could well be a wild form with a distinct origin. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. The only other species in the genus Punica is the Socotran pomegranate (Punica protopunica), which is endemic to the island of Socotra. It differs in having pink (not red) flowers and smaller, less sweet fruit. Scientists at Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bangalore, India, are in the process of developing disease resistant superior cultivars.
Punica granatum has more than 500 named cultivars, but the pomegranate evidently has considerable synonymy in which the same genotype is named differently across regions of the world.
Several characteristics between pomegranate genotypes vary for identification, consumer preference, preferred use, and marketing, the most important of which are fruit size, exocarp color (ranging from yellow to purple, with pink and red most common), seed-coat color (ranging from white to red), hardness of seed, maturity, juice content and its acidity, sweetness, and astringency.
The name pomegranate derives from medieval Latin pōmum "apple" and grānātum "seeded".
This has influenced the common name for pomegranate in many languages (e.g. granada in Spanish, Granatapfel or Grenadine in German, grenade in French, granatäpple in Swedish, pomogranà in Venetian). Mālum grānātus, using the classical Latin word for apple, gives rise to the Italian name melograno, or less commonly melagrana.
Perhaps stemming from the old French word for the fruit, pomme-grenade, the pomegranate was known in early English as "apple of Grenada"—a term which today survives only in heraldic blazons. This is a folk etymology, confusing Latin granatus with the name of the Spanish city of Granada, which derives from Arabic.
The genus name Punica refers to the Phoenicians, who were active in broadening its cultivation, partly for religious reasons.
Garnet comes from Old French grenat by metathesis, from Medieval Latin granatum, here used in a different meaning: "of a dark red color". This meaning perhaps originated from pomum granatum because of the color of pomegranate pulp, or from granum in the sense of "red dye, cochineal".
The French term grenade for pomegranate has given its name to the military grenade. Soldiers commented on the similar shape of early grenades and the name entered common usage.
While most European languages have cognate names for the fruit, stemming from Latin granatum, exceptions are the Armenian term nur, Albanian term "shega" and the Portuguese term romã which is derived from Arabic ruman, and has cognates in other Semitic languages (e.g. Hebrew rimmon) and Ancient Egyptian rmn.
The pomegranate is native to Persia (modern day Iran). Pomegranates also thrive in the drier climates of California and Arizona, and have been cultivated in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Russia, Bangladesh and the Mediterranean region for several millennia.
Carbonized exocarp of the fruit has been identified in Early Bronze Age levels of Jericho in the West Bank, as well as Late Bronze Age levels of Hala Sultan Tekke on Cyprus and Tiryns. A large, dry pomegranate was found in the tomb of Djehuty, the butler of Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt; Mesopotamian cuneiform records mention pomegranates from the mid-Third millennium BC onwards.
It is also extensively grown in South China and in Southeast Asia, whether originally spread along the route of the Silk Road or brought by sea traders. Kandahar is famous in Afghanistan for its high quality pomegranates.
Although not native to Korea or Japan, the pomegranate is widely grown there and many cultivars have been developed. It is widely used for bonsai because of its flowers and for the unusual twisted bark that older specimens can attain. The term "balaustine" (Latin: balaustinus) is also used for a pomegranate-red color.
Pomegranate cultivation in Italy is diffused throughout the southern region, especially in Olevano sul Tusciano and the rest of Campania's area. The ancient city of Granada in Spain was renamed after the fruit during the Moorish period. Spanish colonists later introduced the fruit to the Caribbean and Latin America, but in the English colonies it was less at home: "Don't use the pomegranate inhospitably, a stranger that has come so far to pay his respects to thee," the English Quaker Peter Collinson wrote to the botanizing John Bartram in Philadelphia, 1762. "Plant it against the side of thy house, nail it close to the wall. In this manner it thrives wonderfully with us, and flowers beautifully, and bears fruit this hot year. I have twenty-four on one tree... Doctor Fothergill says, of all trees this is most salutiferous to mankind." The pomegranate had been introduced as an exotic to England the previous century, by John Tradescant the elder, but the disappointment that it did not set fruit there led to its repeated introduction to the American colonies, even New England. It succeeded in the South: Bartram received a barrel of pomegranates and oranges from a correspondent in Charleston, South Carolina, 1764. John Bartram partook of "delitious" pomegranates with Noble Jones at Wormsloe Plantation, near Savannah, Georgia, in September 1765. Thomas Jefferson planted pomegranates at Monticello in 1771: he had them from George Wythe of Williamsburg.
After the pomegranate is opened by scoring it with a knife and breaking it open, the seeds are separated from the peel and internal white pulp membranes. Separating the seeds is easier in a bowl of water because the seeds sink and the inedible pulp floats. Freezing the entire fruit also makes it easier to separate. Another very effective way of quickly harvesting the seeds is to cut the pomegranate in half, score each half of the exterior rind four to six times, hold the pomegranate half over a bowl and smack the rind with a large spoon. The seeds should eject from the pomegranate directly into the bowl, leaving only a dozen or more deeply embedded seeds to remove.
The entire seed is consumed raw, though the watery, tasty sarcotesta is the desired part. The taste differs depending on the subspecies of pomegranate and its ripeness.
The pomegranate juice can be very sweet or sour, but most fruits are moderate in taste, with sour notes from the acidic tannins contained in the juice. Pomegranate juice has long been a popular drink in Armenian, Persian and Indian cuisine, and began to be widely distributed in the United States and Canada in 2002.
Grenadine syrup consisted long ago in a thickened and sweetened pomegranate juice but nowadays it is only a salesname for an industrial syrup based on various shrub berries, citric acid and food coloring, mainly used in cocktail mixing. Before tomatoes (a New World fruit) arrived in the Middle East, pomegranate juice, molasses and vinegar were widely used in many Iranian foods, and are still found in traditional recipes such as fesenjān, a thick sauce made from pomegranate juice and ground walnuts, usually spooned over duck or other poultry and rice, and in ash-e anar (pomegranate soup).
Wild pomegranate seeds are used as a spice known as anardana (from Persian: anar + dana, pomegranate + seed), most notably in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, but also as a substitute for pomegranate syrup in Persian cuisine. Dried whole seeds can often be obtained in ethnic Indian subcontinent markets. These seeds are separated from the flesh, dried for 10–15 days and used as an acidic agent for chutney and curry preparation. Ground anardana is also used, which results in a deeper flavoring in dishes and prevents the seeds from getting stuck in teeth. Seeds of the wild pomegranate variety known as daru from the Himalayas are regarded as quality sources for this spice.
Dried pomegranate seed, found in some natural specialty food markets, still contain some residual water, maintaining a natural sweet and tart flavor. Dried seeds can be used in several culinary applications, such as trail mix, granola bars, or as a topping for salad, yogurt, or ice cream. Chocolate covered seeds may be added to desserts and baked items.
In the Caucasus, pomegranate is used mainly as juice. In Azerbaijan, a sauce from pomegranate juice (narsharab) is usually served with fish or tika kabab. In Turkey, pomegranate sauce (Turkish: nar ekşisi) is used as a salad dressing, to marinate meat, or simply to drink straight. Pomegranate seeds are also used in salads and sometimes as garnish for desserts such as güllaç. Pomegranate syrup or molasses is used in muhammara, a roasted red pepper, walnut, and garlic spread popular in Syria and Turkey.
In Greece, pomegranate (Greek: ρόδι, rodi) is used in many recipes, including kollivozoumi, a creamy broth made from boiled wheat, pomegranates and raisins, legume salad with wheat and pomegranate, traditional Middle Eastern lamb kebabs with pomegranate glaze, pomegranate eggplant relish, and avocado-pomegranate dip. Pomegranate is also made into a liqueur, and as a popular fruit confectionery used as ice cream topping, mixed with yogurt, or spread as jam on toast. In Cyprus and Greece, and among the Greek Orthodox Diaspora, ρόδι (Greek for pomegranate) is used to make koliva, a mixture of wheat, pomegranate seeds, sugar, almonds and other seeds served at memorial services.
In Mexico, they are commonly used to adorn the traditional dish chiles en nogada, representing the red of the Mexican flag in the dish which evokes the green (poblano pepper), white (nogada sauce) and red (pomegranate seeds) tricolor.
In Ayurvedic medicine
In the Indian subcontinent's ancient Ayurveda system of medicine, the pomegranate has extensively been used as a source of traditional remedies for thousands of years.
The rind of the fruit and the bark of the pomegranate tree is used as a traditional remedy against diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal parasites. The seeds and juice are considered a tonic for the heart and throat, and classified as having bitter-astringent taste plus a range of taste from sweet to sour, depending on ripeneness. Thus Pomegranate is considered a healthful counterbalance to a diet high in sweet-fatty (kapha or earth) components.
Especially when sweet, pomegranate fruit is nourishing for (pitta or fire) systems, particularly the hemopoietic system, and is known as a blood builder. The astringent qualities of the flower juice, rind and tree bark are considered valuable for a variety of purposes, such as stopping nose bleeds and gum bleeds, toning skin, (after blending with mustard oil) firming-up sagging breasts and treating hemorrhoids. Pomegranate juice (of specific fruit strains) is also used as eyedrops as it is believed to slow the development of cataracts.
Ayurveda differentiates between pomegranate varieties and employs them for different remedies.
Pomegranate has been used as a contraceptive and abortifacient by means of consuming the seeds, or rind, as well as by using the rind as a vaginal suppository. This practice is recorded in ancient Indian literature, in Medieval sources, and in modern folk medicine.
Nutrients and phytochemicals
Pomegranate seeds provide 12% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C and 16% DV for vitamin K per 100 g serving, and contain polyphenols, such as ellagitannins and flavonoids (section below). Pomegranate seeds are excellent sources of dietary fiber which is entirely contained in the edible seeds. People who choose to discard the seeds forfeit nutritional benefits conveyed by the seed fiber and micronutrients.
The most abundant polyphenols in pomegranate juice are the hydrolyzable tannins called ellagitannins formed when ellagic acid binds with a carbohydrate. Pomegranate ellagitannins, also called punicalagins, are tannins with free-radical scavenging properties in laboratory experiments and with potential human effects. Punicalagins are absorbed into the human body and may have dietary value as antioxidants, but conclusive proof of efficacy in humans has not been shown.
During intestinal metabolism by bacteria, ellagitannins and punicalagins are converted to urolithins, which have unknown biological activity in vivo. The different punicalagins present in P. granatum are granatin A and B, punicacortein A, B, C and D, 5-O-galloylpunicacortein D, punicafolin, punigluconin, punicalagin, 1-alpha-O-galloylpunicalagin, punicalin and 2-O-galloyl-punicalin. Other phenolics include catechins, gallocatechins, and anthocyanins, such as prodelphinidins, delphinidin, cyanidin, and pelargonidin.
Many food and dietary supplement makers use pomegranate phenolic extracts as ingredients in their products instead of the juice. One of these extracts is ellagic acid, which may become bioavailable only after parent molecule punicalagins are metabolized. However, ingested ellagic acid from pomegranate juice does not accumulate in the blood in significant quantities and is rapidly excreted. Accordingly, ellagic acid from pomegranate juice does not appear to be biologically important in vivo.
Potential health benefits
In preliminary laboratory research and clinical trials, juice of the pomegranate may be effective in reducing heart disease risk factors, including LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation. In mice, "oxidation of LDL by peritoneal macrophages was reduced by up to 90% after pomegranate juice consumption...".
In a limited study of hypertensive patients, consumption of pomegranate juice for two weeks was shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by inhibiting serum angiotensin-converting enzyme.
Juice consumption may also inhibit viral infections while pomegranate extracts have antibacterial effects against dental plaque.
Despite limited research data, manufacturers and marketers of pomegranate juice have liberally used evolving research results for product promotion, especially for putative antioxidant health benefits. In February 2010, the FDA issued a Warning Letter to one such manufacturer, POM Wonderful, for using published literature to make illegal claims of unproven antioxidant and anti-disease benefits.
Ancient Egyptians regarded the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity and ambition. According to the Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical writings from around 1500 BC, Egyptians used the pomegranate for treatment of tapeworm and other infections.
soak in water for 12-24 hours
all year round
Needs Light to germinate! Just sprinkle on the surface of the substrate + gently press
Coir or sowing mix + sand or perlite
bright + keep constantly moist not wet
10 - 45 days
Water regularly during the growing season
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