Pomegrates (Punica granatum) are native to South Asia, the pomegranate is a member of the Lythraceae (Henna) Family and believed to be a native of Iran. The name, pomegranate comes from the Latin, meaning “apple with many seeds.” Its red juiciness is symbolic of the blood of life.
In Mythology, the pomegranate is said to have sprung from the blood of Dionysius. Aprhrodite is said to have planted pomegranates on Cyprus. Zeus is often depicted holding a pomegranate. Persephone gave a pomegranate to Hades. Mohammed is said to have proclaimed, “Eat of the pomegranate. It will cleanse your soul of hatred and envy.” The Kabbala, a book of Jewish mysticism holds pomegranates as a symbol of religious spirit and has been part of ancient Hanukah rituals. Pomegranate has been used as currency in Egypt. Turkish brides throw a pomegranate to the ground and the number of seeds expelled, indicate how many children she will bear. Pomegranates contain the alkaloid pelleterine, which is similar to mescaline and is associated with spiritual states of consciousness.
Pomegranate is sweet and sour and considered a yin tonic that builds the kidneys, liver, blood and bladder. It is alterative, antiseptic. Israeli scientists have evidence that pomegranate has anti-aging properties, can help prevent cancer and hardening of the arteries. Pomegranate is used therapeutically for arthritis, bladder infection, diarrhea, intestinal worms (especially tapeworm), weak gums, liver congestion, mouth sores, and helps to encourage creativity. It is a rich source of vitamin C and potassium. Grenadine syrup (remember Shirley Temple cocktails?) is made pomegranate juice. The seeds contain phyto-estrogenic compounds. Eating half a pomegranate daily is traditionally used to improve fertility. Pomegranate is a beauty fruit, imparting a rosy glow to the complexion. Pomegranates have resisted hybridization, and remain closer to their natural state than many other fruits.
Look for pink to red colored fruit that are heavy for their size. Commercial pomegranates are grown with nitrogen fertilizers. Pomegranates store very well, sometimes till spring. One way to eat them is to roll the fruit on a hard surface to release its juices. Make a hole in the end and suck up its rich succulent juices. Some people make a wish before eating the first seed. Another tradition is to visualize prosperity when eating this fruit. Add the seeds to fruit salad. Use in sorbet, as a garnish, or an addition to juices. Best of all is to share one with your lover. The peel is used as a remedy for dysentery.