When we lived in Malta, we ate a lot of pomegranate. We even had a tree in the garden and indeed were house was named after the pomegranate, Ta 'Rumina (in Maltese).
The pomegranate is an ancient fruit enveloped in much history and myth, especially in the Middle East. Pomegranate is significant in Jewish custom, as it is said to hold 613 seeds to symbolize the 613 commands in the Torah. Romans imported their pomegranates from Libya and the Chinese mention pomegranate as back as the Han and Sung dynasties. The Spanish conquistadors bought the pomegranate to South America, and missionaries took it to California.
While I was living in England we would see them in the markets, the season was short lived, but they really did not cause much of a stir, then. More recently all that has changed in the West, these days it has become a winner, rising to the status of a 'super food', something they have always known in the East. It is thought the pomegranate originated in Iran and India.
The pomegranate has a leathery type skin, roughly the size of a large apple, its juice is sweet and tart, is totally packed with seeds, each one is surrounded by a translucent dark pink juice sac. It has been reported that it's nutrients help to protect against heart disease, cancer and all sorts of problems associated with aging. Full of Eastern promise, it is loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, niacin (B3), potassium, folic acid, iron, fiber, and more. Even green tea and red wine, have fewer merits, as pomegranate has three times the antioxidants.
It is thought that maybe one of the reasons this fruit did not take off sooner in the West, was the fact it is a time consuming fruit to prepare. You need a little patience, but it is fun, and well worth the effort. It's not like grabbing an apple that you can eat while you are on the run. We would have a great time in Malta eating them straight off the tree. You need to cut off the top and the bottom and score down the tough but thin skin with a knife, underneath is a bitter membrane (you do not eat) housing hundreds of small seeds encased in translucent ruby sacs of juice. This bitter, inedible membrane holds the seeds, open up the fruit it will be in sections, invert the sections.
Since the pomegranate's rating has soared in the charts, more people are willing to prepare it. Pomegranate is a versatile fruit, excellent in all sorts of salads, on your breakfast etc. The fruit is red, but it can also be found with mainly a yellow skin that has a patch or two of pink. Pomegranates can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two months, or in a cool, dark place for up to a month. These days California grows pomegranate commercially.
Grenadine, the light syrup that has been added to alcoholic drinks for decades, was made from pomegranates, unfortunately these are not made from the fruit.
Pure pomegranate oil is amazing, a light easily absorbed oil. It has been shown to help slow down the signs of aging by maintaining the thickness of the epidermal, and by encouraging the life of dermal fibroblast cells. It is these busy cells that produce the skin's supporting structural fibers like collagen and elastin. As already mentioned pomegranate seems to have some very potent antioxidants, some research says more than most plants.