The pomegranate is making waves right now as the number one source for high levels of antioxidants, beating blueberry juice, grape juice, tea and red wine, among others. Pomegranates originally came from Iran to the Himalayas in Northern India, Middle Eastern countries and the whole Mediterranean region. It is now cultivated worldwide where suitable climate is present. Spanish settlers brought the pomegranate to California in 1769.
There are many medicinal uses of pomegranate juice – from helping prevent cancer, curing inflammation caused by arthritis, lowering blood pressure, acting as antibacterial agent against dental plaque, to helping boost memory. These are some of the diseases that benefit from the healing properties of pomegranates. The fruit has triple the normal quantity of antioxidants as compared to other fruits and beverages, is high in potassium, Vitamin C and niacin. Several varieties are grown in the United States such as Wonderful, Granada, Ruby Red and Foothill Early.
When you buy pomegranates, choose the ones which are heavy. The seeds represent about 52 percent of the fruit. And you get the juice from those tiny seeds. The skin should be thin, taut and shiny and free from splits and cracks. A pomegranate can contain about 800 seeds.
To make fresh pomegranate juice at home, do the following:
A medium-sized pomegranate will yield about one-half cup of juice. So get enough fruit for your needs.
- Cut off the crown first. Score the skin of the pomegranate fruit in quarters and press your thumb on the white core and gently pull the sections apart.
- Remove most of the thin white or yellow membrane that encase the sections. If you find it difficult to remove the paper-thin membrane, put the sections in cold water and gently separate the seeds. The membrane will float in the water and you can easily discard them.
- Invert the skin inside out gently so the seeds can pop out. Remove the rest of the seeds that remain attached to the membrane and the core.
- Make sure that you only have the pink or deep red seeds. Remove any trace of membrane as this is quite bitter.
- Wash the seeds and place them inside a big Ziploc bag. The best way to juice the pomegranate is by hand to avoid bruising the seeds which can impart a bitterness to the juice.
- Mash the seeds with your fingers to extract the juice and pour the juice that you have into your container.
- Strain the juice using clean cheesecloth or a fine sieve to remove the pulp and some seeds that may have been in the juice.
- Pomegranate juice is quite tart. Add sugar, ice and cold water to make a very refreshing drink.
Take advantage of all the nutrients and antioxidants present in pomegranates. Make your own fresh homemade pomegranate juice. The fruits ripen in the winter months. It is said that pomegranate juice can also help heal sore throats. With its high Vitamin C content it can ward off some winter ailments like colds and coughs. The juice has a short shelf life though. It can stay fresh up to three days when refrigerated.