Lots of people say fall is their favorite season: the crispness in the air, the glorious fall colors, the sense, from years of schooling, that it’s the beginning of something new, time to make a fresh start. But I love fall for another reason entirely: POMEGRANATES! You can only get them fresh here for about 3 months, and the season starts now. The flavor is not quite perfectly robust yet, but ahhhh, the intimations of things to come. Pomegranates are beautiful, delicious, and one of the healthiest fruits you can eat.
There have been disputes in the past couple of years about the claims made by a certain juice manufacturer, and having looked at the research, they uhhh… may have exaggerated based on limited results of a very small study. However, the potential benefits of pomegranates for breast cancer and prostate health are pretty solid, and pomegranates may also have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Pomegranates, like red grapes and wine, are high in resveratrol, and rich in anthocyanins, like blueberries and acai. Anthocyanins may be protective against inflammation and its ills, including heart disease and the aging of the brain.
But none of that is why I eat pomegranates. I just love them. The ruby color, the tart sweet juicy flavor, the ritual of cutting the fruit open and removing the seeds all enchant me. Some foods just demand that you slow down and savor their pleasures.
The best pomegranates I ever had were during my visit to Egypt, where they are native, and cheap. My daughter lived in Cairo for a year, and we brought them home by the bag from the local market for just pennies a piece. When I was in India, we had them after yoga practice, along with coconut and other fresh fruits, with a big steaming cup of fresh ginger tea.
You’re going to get many more health and nutrition benefits from fresh pomegranates than from pasteurized juice with all the fiber removed, so take the time to buy some fruit and figure it out. Don’t let lack of familiarity keep you from this treat. There are lots of how-to videos on youtube but here’s a demo after my own heart.
Eventually, later in the winter, I will have to go back to freeze-dried pomegranate powder. But, for the next few months, I will be treating myself to at least a few fresh pomegranates a week. So don’t be surprised if when you see me next, my fingers have turned ruby red!