Pomegranetes, Ancient Fruits with a Wealth of Nutrients
How Old Are They?
Pomegranate trees have been around since at least 4,000 years ago. Wild uncultivated pomegranates turned up in different regions in the Mediterranean. They were first cultivated by the Sumerians, more than 4,000 years ago. They are an intriguingly chambered fruit with sacs of seeds which have a slightly sweet gelatinous covering. Some people just strain the fruit and drink the juice, but the seeds are edible and are good to eat. Connoisseurs also just suck the juice from around the seed to get a tangy taste sensation.
They are drought tolerant long lived trees with few problems. Some have been known to live at least two hundred years. Treat them well (but no need to pamper them) and they will reward you with many years of fruit and flowers. The fruits are big and the flowers are beautiful. The flowers are tubular and are a warm orange red color, warm like the Mediterranean areas where they originated from.
The pomegranate was an integral part of the nomad's life. Wherever they travelled, the pomegranate went with them. It kept very well in a self contained leather like covering. This covering kept insects out (as long as the skin wasn't cracked open) and the invaluable water and juice in. Pomegranates are actually 80 percent water and juice. The fruits (seeds or arils) make up the weight of the pomegranate. One pomegranate can yield numerous arils to enjoy, and I am sure these kept the nomads very healthy. The pomegranate has a variety of vitamins and minerals. These minerals were absolutely necessary to replace fluids lost while trekking out in the blazing sun. As the nomads travelled across the desert in search of better lands, they may have traded pomegranates for other items that they needed, and by doing so, spread the range of the pomegranate.
Some Interesting Facts
- The tree bark has tannins that are used in the aging of leather, the pomegranate tree bark tannins are a favorite of Moroccan leather makers. The tannins age the leather beautifully and impart a full rich color.
- Dried pomegranate flower buds can be crushed and used in a tea to ease bronchitis.
- Anardana is an Indian spice made by drying the seeds out in the sun for about 15 days. The slower the drying process, the richer the flavor. They can be mixed into marmalades and are also used in sauces to deepen the flavor of many meat dishes. Some dried seeds are chewy and some are tougher. The harder seeds can be dried, crushed, and used as a sprinkle on spice. The flavor is bright and complex and earthy, which blends well with hearty autumn dishes. Anardana goes well with cloves, meats and mixed into sauces. Experiment, you'll probably come up with some exotic dish that is quite heavenly.
- Pomegranate juice is used to make grenadine syrups which are used in mixed drinks. It has a rich red color that gives some mixed drinks their ruby color.
- Mexican natives use the flowers in a decoction (which means to boil the flowers down to their essence) and then make a drink or liquor for mouth and throat inflammations.
- Jewish lore says that the 613 seeds found in a fruit coincide with the 613 commandments of the Torah. This is an ancient fruit, as is the Jewish religion, so their thoughts about the seeds make sense to me.
- The Chinese are said to believe that the seeds represent male babies who will go forth in the world and do many great and wondrous deeds.
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