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USA Culture: Pomegranate – Our First Season Harvesting

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In this post we share photos of our first experience harvesting pomegranates from a mature tree on the property and include a recipe for pomegranate jelly.


A brief history

  • Native to Central Asia
  • First cultivation around 2200 B.C. by the Sumerians in present day Basra, Iraq
  • By 1300 B.C. spread to Asia Minor –> Phoenicians
  • Traders called pomegranate the “fruit of paradise”
  • By 500 B.C. spread to Samarkand and China, new varieties introduced
  • The pomegranate appears in Homer’s The Odyssey and Ancient Greek mythology
  • Jewish custom says that the 613 seeds of a pomegranate represent the 613 commandments in the Torah
  • Pomegranates are found in the tomb of King Tut
  • Mention of the pomegranate is found in the Qu’uran
  • The Spanish bring the pomegranate with the to the New World – introduction to Mexico, in the 1500s introduction to California and in 1700s introduction to Spanish Florida

If you’d like to continue learning about pomegranates, we recommend Richard Ashton’s The Incredible Pomegranate Plant & Fruit, a well rounded introduction to the nature of pomegranates, including history, varieties, and use around the world.

Growing pomegranates

We learned a few key things ahead as we researched planting and tending to pomegranates:

  • Time to maturation: 6-7 months from the time of first flower.
  • Soils: Pomegranates do best in deep loamy soils, but also grow quite well in sandy and clay soils.
  • Watering: 50 to 60 inches of water every year.
  • Sun exposure: Pomegranates like dry environments with full sun.
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 7-10
  • Pomegranates are typically sold for $2 per fruit at the store.

A mature pomegranate tree

The tree begins to flower

Pomegranates mature

Our pomegranate harvest this season


Pomegranate Jelly preparation, cook time & yield

Yield: 3 liters

Once opened, this pomegranate jelly lasts about 2-3 weeks.

This recipe requires preparation of the jelly and sanitization of the mason jars to ensure no bacterial growth.

Ingredients

  • 8 pomegranates (yields about 4 cups pomegranate juice)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 6 oz Ball Pectin * (if you’re using an alternative Pectin brand, calculate equivalencies here).
  • 5 cups white cane sugar

Utensils

  1. 8 eight oz. Mason Jars
  2. Fine mesh strainer
  3. Blender
  4. 6-quart pan for bringing jelly ingredients together
  5. Large pot for sanitizing mason jars
  6. Tongs to remove jars from boiling water
  7. Small bowl for sanitizing mason jar lids

Instructions

Extract seeds from the pomegranate

  1. Cut open the pomegranates.
  2. Place the cut pomegranate into a large bowl filled with water.
  3. Place your hands under the water and pick the seeds apart from the rind and membrane. The seeds will fall to the bottom of the bowl and the rind and membrane will float to the top.
  4. Remove the rind and membrane.
  5. Strain the seeds and place them in a blender.
  6. Pulse the blender to break the seeds up.
  7. Pour the seed juice through the strainer into a bowl. Try to extract as much juice as possible.

Sanitize the mason jars and lids

  1. Separate the mason jar lids from the jar.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a large pot.
  3. Place the mason jars and lids into the boiling water for five minutes.
  4. Place the lids into a smaller bowl and pour boiling water over them to sterilize.
  5. Use tongs to remove the jars from water. Place on a clean kitchen cloth.

Create the pomegranate jelly

  1. In a 6-quart pan, combine pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and pectin. Bring the ingredients to a rolling boil. Stir constantly to prevent scorching.
  2. When the mixture can no longer be stirred down, add in sugar, stirring in one cup at a time. Bring to a boil for two minutes. Avoid burning the jelly at the bottom of the pan.
  3. Remove the jelly from the heat.

Pour hot jelly into the sanitized mason jars

  1. Pour liquid into each mason jar, until about 75% full.
  2. Immediately place the lids on the mason jar and seal.

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