You may have mixed feelings about yet another long, cold fall and winter, but in the USA it does mean one very special thing: pomegranate season.
Pomegranates are available almost everywhere in the US from September through to the new year, and they bring a special sweetness to our lives that is sorely missed come February.
So what can we do to extend our pomegranate season?
Can you freeze pomegranate seeds? Yes, pomegranate seeds can be frozen, and they freeze quite well if you take the time to freeze them properly. First, you need to open the pomegranate and freeze the arils (the fruit-flesh covered seeds of a pomegranate) individually.
If you’d like to enjoy the tiny red jewels of juicy flavor year-round, this article will walk you through all the steps from properly preparing your seeds for freezing to defrosting them for use at any time during the year.
Can Pomegranate Seeds Be Frozen and How
Once they’re rinsed and dry, to freeze the pomegranate seeds you’ll want to line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread them out in a single layer, not touching each other.
You want to freeze each aril individually in order to keep them from clumping together into one large ball. This should take 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Once they’re frozen through and through, you can gather them all together and place them into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag or Tupperware container (something like this from Amazon is perfect). Try to keep as much air out of your chosen storage as possible to prevent ice crystals from forming on or around your seeds.
If you keep reading, we go into detail on how to properly cut a pomegranate in order to get all the seeds out.
How Long Can You Keep Pomegranate Seeds in the Freezer?
Pomegranate seeds have an incredibly bright and juicy flavor when they’re perfectly fresh, and freezing them helps extend this flavor, but it can’t perform miracles.
The seeds will start to lose their richness after about 6 months, so try to eat them before too much more time passes.
Fresh pomegranate seeds and/or thawed from frozen pomegranate seeds will keep in your fridge, well-sealed, for about a week.
Can you freeze a pomegranate whole?
Technically, you can freeze a whole pomegranate, yes. If you know a little about how the freezing process works, you know that the secret to a good freeze is protection from air and moisture.
You’d think that fruit with such nice outer coverage as a pomegranate would have natural protection against air and moisture and therefore freeze perfectly. This is not the case.
Inside the pomegranate is a lot of natural air and moisture as well, which will severely affect the quality of your seeds when unthawed.
If you’re planning on using the seeds for a smoothie or juicing, the mushy texture may not matter too much, but the mess trying to get the seeds out of the shell should be enough to deter you from trying to freeze a whole pomegranate.
This is one fruit that you want to take the time to properly prepare before freezing.
Also, if you love pomegranate seeds (arils), but don’t want to bother with freezing them, these freeze-dried ones you can get on Amazon are completely amazing.
How To Defrost Pomegranate Seeds
Thawing your frozen pomegranate seeds is remarkably easy. Simply take them out of your freezer, leave them in the container or bag, and allow them to come to room temperature on your counter.
The individual seeds are quite small, so they don’t take long to defrost. Depending on how full your container is, it’ll probably take between 30 minutes to 1 hour. If you’re in a terrible rush, you can place the container in lukewarm (not hot!) water to speed up the process.
If you’re planning on baking with your pomegranate or using them in a smoothie, you don’t have to wait for them to defrost, you can use them frozen. Frozen arils also make a delicious cool treat on a hot summer’s day.
Alternative Ways to Store Pomegranate Seeds
If you’ve bought a collection of pomegranates, and you leave them on your counter whole, they will last for about a week before you notice wrinkles starting to develop and the fruit starting to turn soft.
In your refrigerator, on the other hand, you can keep a whole fruit for closer to 3 weeks, depending on when it was actually picked.
Once you’ve removed the seeds from the pomegranate, the most important thing to protect and extend their life is to seal them in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
Ideally, a glass container would work best. The seeds are always a little moist and this can increase the likelihood of harmful toxins from plastic leaching into your fruit, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Once they’re properly sealed, pomegranate seeds will stay fresh in your fridge for approximately 1 week.
If you’re feeling a little bit German, you may even want to make a Rum Pot with your pomegranate arils, which basically means you cover them in sugar and soak them in rum for an interestingly fermented preserve.
How to Tell if Pomegranate Seeds Have Gone Bad
Pomegranate seeds gone bad are relatively obvious, as they start to rot and give off a noticeable odor. When you cut into a pomegranate, the arils should be plump and juicy.
If you find they’re on the mushy side, or if they’re too slippery and slimy to handle, the fruit has probably gone beyond it’s prime.
The inside of the fruit should also be a lovely, rich pink color. If you see spots of brown, that is a bad sign that your pomegranate has started to rot.
While it’s devastating to find a good pomegranate has gone bad, it’s very nice to be able to tell well before you place a rotten or fermented seed in your mouth.
How To Cut Pomegranate
As delicious as pomegranates are, they can be very messy and frustrating if you don’t know how to cut them properly. Once you know, however, you can get your arils ready for eating or freezing in mere minutes.
To prepare your pomegranate, you’ll need a few supplies:
- A large bowl to collect your pomegranate seeds
- A small bowl to discard the outer casing and pulp
- A small, sharp paring knife
- A wooden spoon
Now, just follow these few easy steps:
- Find the blossom end of your pomegranate (top), opposite from the end that was cut from the tree (bottom).
- Use your knife to score a circle all around the top, approximately where it starts to curve downwards.
- Pull the top off and discard.
- You should see the white pulp where it divides the segments of your fruit.
- Use your knife to score along the length of the pomegranate (from top to about 1” from the bottom) where you can see the white. This should correlate to slight bumps in your pomegranate and there are usually between 4-6.
- Once you have scored where each of the segments are, hold the pomegranate upside down so the open top is over your large bowl.
- Begin to pull the sections away from each other, but don’t pull so hard that they come completely off. You want the entire outer layer to stay in one piece.
- Using your wooden spoon, tap the outside of each of the segments to release the arils (seeds) into the bowl
The only thing left to do now is to enjoy the fruits of your labor!
If all that sounds like too much effort, you can also consider investing in a pomegranate deseeder to eliminate most of the scoring and cutting.
How to Eat Pomegranate Seeds
Most people refer to the rich little kernels inside a pomegranate as the seeds, however, they are actually called “arils”, and each one has a seed inside of it, surrounded by the tasty, sweet flesh we love.
Once you’ve extracted all the arils from your pomegranate, you can simply eat the results however you prefer. Many people will eat the seed inside, and it is completely safe and even healthy to do so, but others spit out the hard seed, as they can be a nuisance to your teeth.
Another seed that people don’t enjoy eating raw is the chia seed. Want to know more about these little guys? Check out this article we wrote.
You can simply grab a spoon and dig in, but here are a few other ways to add pomegranate to your daily meals:
- In your cereal, hot or cold
- Added to your juice or smoothies
- Tossed with your salads for lunch
- Cooked with your favorite grains, such as a creamy risotto or spicy curried rice
- Sprinkled over your ice cream, cheesecake or another dessert of choice
How to Make Pomegranate Juice
If you have a juicer, making pomegranate juice is as easy as scooping the arils into the juicing chamber of your machine and turning it on. Depending on the type and quality of juicer you have, it should separate out all the seeds for you, leaving only the sweet juice.
If you don’t have a juicer, you can still make juice fairly easily.
Get out a mesh strainer and simply crush your pomegranate arils in the mesh with a fork or a spoon. The flesh of the arils is soft and juicy enough that it doesn’t take much to squish them to get the juice out, and the mesh should catch the seeds and any lingering white membrane.
Benefits of Pomegranate Seeds
When you see the bright, rich colors of a beautiful pomegranate, you just know there’s plenty of nutritional benefits packed inside each juicy aril.
With bright colors tends to come a rich source of antioxidants, which are key in keeping you free from just about all diseases, from the little c – common cold – to the big C – cancer. Pomegranates have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants in all fruit and even beats out red wine and green tea.
The fruit is also a good source of Vitamin C, another important supporter of your immune system and therefore overall health. You’ll also find vitamins E and K as well as some essential minerals.
With all the nutrition you can get from pomegranates, you can protect yourself from diseases related to inflammation such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and viruses. You might be able to lower blood pressure, improve your memory, boost your endurance and stamina and even improve your sex life.
Pomegranate Extract vs Juice
There have been plenty of studies done on pomegranates, in all its many forms. Each study seems to find something slightly different, so at this point in time, it’s hard to say if you’d be better off choosing extracts, juice, supplements or the whole fruit.
Ultimately, pomegranates have a lot of incredible nutrition, and you’re going to benefit from getting that nutrition in your body one way or another.
Drinking pomegranate juice or eating pomegranate arils is certainly the tastiest options!
How to tell when a pomegranate is ripe?
Most pomegranates that we see in the US are of the red variety, so you should look for large, bright red fruits to give you the first indication that your choice is ripe and ready to enjoy. If you’re looking at a pomegranate that is white, pink or other variety, you can also tell by their shape.
As the seeds develop, the fruit starts to become more blocky, flattening off on the top and bottom and developing a somewhat hexagonal shape where the segments become more pronounced. Your fruit should also be quite heavy.
How much pomegranate juice should I drink a day?
If you’re just starting to introduce juices, fruits or vegetables into your diet, you should always start with small amounts to allow your digestive system to adjust to the new nutrition. As little as 5 ounces a day can have significant health benefits.
If you’re watching your calories or your sugar, be warned that most fruit juice is high in both and pomegranate juice is no exception. Whenever possible, opt for 100% pure pomegranate juice to avoid added sugars and other undesirable additives.
Where are pomegranates grown?
Pomegranates originate in Iran and Northern India and have been grown throughout the Middle East, the Mediterranean and South Asia for thousands of years.
In more recent times, farmers in dryer states such as California and Arizona have also begun cultivating the fruit.
Are pomegranates seeds good for dogs?
Pomegranates are a safe source of nutrition for your dogs if given to them correctly and in moderate doses. It’s best to remove the seeds from the outer skin and crush them before feeding your pet.
The seeds themselves can be a choking hazard for some dogs, so just be careful how they’re offered.
Also, just like a human, if a dog is given a large dose of fiber-rich fruit when they’re not used to it, it can cause digestive issues.
Pomegranate vs cranberry: which is better?
Both pomegranate and cranberries are highly nutritional and delicious, so if you have the option of both, that’s the best solution. There are distinguishing features between them, however, that may make one more appealing than the other, depending on your unique health concerns.
Per weight, pomegranates have more vitamin C, and they’re also a great source of vitamin B9. This means if you’re immune system and/or red blood cells need a helping hand, pomegranates are your best choice.
However, if you’re taking medication to lower your blood pressure, pomegranates can actually lower it too much, so be aware.
On the other hand, cranberries have more fiber than pomegranates, so they’re going to be better for your digestive system.
They’re also high in an antioxidant called quercetin, which is anti-inflammatory and often used as a medication to control blood sugar, kill cancer and prevent heart disease.
Cranberries are also full of Vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting. This is usually highly beneficial but can interact with medications for blood thinning or clotting.
Another berry with a lot of benefits is the goji berry. Read this article to learn more!