Once when I was living in the heart of a pomegranate, I heard a seed saying, “Someday I shall become a tree, and the wind will sing in my branches, and the sun will dance on my leaves, and I shall be strong and beautiful through all the seasons.” Excerpt from The Pomegranate, Kahlil Gibran
I just bought my first pomegranate of the fall and I am so grateful. This is the time of year for the jewel of autumn to once again grace our fruit bowls. Pomegranates are a fascinating fruit with a rich history whose name derives from the Middle French pomme garnete, or seeded apple.
According to the Pomegranate Council in Sonoma, CA (who knew?) pomegranates have been cherished for their exquisite beauty, flavor, color, and health benefits for centuries. From their distinctive crown to their ruby red arils, pomegranates are royalty amongst fruit. They are symbolic of prosperity and abundance in virtually every civilization.
Fortunately for us, this unique fruit has an abundance of juicy seeds, or arils, to savor. Some sources claim the number of arils is exactly 613, while others allow for an error of +/- 200 – a wide variance. I can tell you from experience, whether the number is 600 or 800, pomegranates have a lot of seeds. It takes uninterrupted time, a bowl of water, and a lot of patience to extract the flavorful gems from their web of spongy skin inside the husk. But, trust me, it is so worth it.
Pomegranate seeds are superfoods containing polyphenols, powerful antioxidants thought to offer heart health and anti-cancer benefits. Pomegranates are also a source of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. There is some evidence that suggests pomegranates can protect from Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis, and aid in digestion.
Almost all of the world’s religions have recognized the pomegranate’s significance. The mythology of ancient Greece regarded this fruit as a symbol of life, marriage and rebirth, and by eating a few pomegranate seeds, Persephone tied herself to Hades as a symbol of the indivisibility of marriage.
Pomegranates are highly symbolic in Jewish tradition, most often associated with fertility and good deeds, and are an integral part of this week’s Rosh Hashanah meals. By eating the pomegranate at Jewish New Year, it expresses a wish for a year filled with as many merits as a pomegranate has seeds. A beautiful sentiment.
When I placed a pomegranate in my shopping cart today, I smiled to myself. Holding the jewel of autumn makes me anticipate our family being all together in a few short months at Thanksgiving. And, while I am not a fan of Halloween decorations in stores in the summer, or Christmas decorations in stores before Halloween, the pomegranate is definitely a welcomed guest in the fruit aisle of the grocery store right now.
Looking regal atop the apples and bananas in my fruit bowl, pomegranates are a strong and beautiful symbol of love. Pop some in a sparkling beverage and let the fun begin!