Science of plants at your dinner table: p

Pomegranate is known as a “super fruit”. They are a delicious fruit with shiny red edible nuts. They grow on small trees or shrubs growing 10-15 feet, where the climate is very hot and dry.

The botanical name of the pomegranate is Punica granatum. The name pomegranate basically means “apple with seeds”. The name, pomegranate, has a history as long as the history of the fruit and is woven into folklore from ancient history to the present day. Pomegranate is celebrated in mythical legends and is considered today’s “super food”.

Pomegranate is one of the oldest recorded domesticated fruits, with a documented history of more than 4,000 years. Pomegranate is mentioned many times in the Bible. Many biblical scholars argue that the pomegranate is the fruit of the “Tree of Life” in the Garden of Eden, not the apple.

Pomegranates are believed to be native to Persia, modern-day Iran. Pomegranates grow on trees or shrubs that are about 10 to 15 feet tall and where the climate is very hot and dry. Trees can live for more than 200 years. They are beautiful and have shiny green foliage, purple colors and amazing yellow color of autumn.

Pomegranates are most common in the United States from September to December, but if you’re lucky, you can find them all year round. In the United States, California grows 99% of the pomegranates, followed by Texas and Arizona. Many people in the southern climate grow them in their gardens.

The Michigan State University Extension has a few more fun facts about pomegranates:

  • Pomegranates are native to the Middle East.
  • Pomegranates are wild berries because their seeds are embedded in the flesh of the fruit.
  • Pomegranate trees grow in hot and dry climates.
  • All pomegranates are self-pollinating.
  • The edible part of pomegranate is called aryl. This is the translucent ruby-colored flesh that surrounds the edible seed.
  • Grenadine is made from pomegranate juice; used in flavors and liqueurs.
  • Pomegranates are considered a “super fruit” due to their high nutritional value and are full of antioxidants.
  • Pomegranates are high in dietary fiber, folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin K.
  • Pomegranates can be stored for up to two months in the refrigerator.
  • In the past, the color of pomegranate was crushed to produce a red dye, and the bark was used to dye leather.

Here’s a great recipe for kids to try using two super foods: pomegranate and dark chocolate. Not only super foods, both pomegranates and botanicals are classified as berries. This recipe is adapted from this healthy table.

Chocolate bites from pomegranate

From start to finish: 20 minutes

servings: 24

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups pomegranate seeds

5.25 ounces (150 grams) high quality dark chocolate (over 60% cocoa)

1 tablespoon sea salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle one layer of pomegranate seeds on 24 mini muffin cups.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave. Check often to make sure it is not burning.
  3. Add the melted dark chocolate in an envelope or plastic bag. Cut off the end so that a small stream of chocolate can come out.
  4. Apply a transverse cross pattern of chocolate on the pomegranate seeds. Add another layer of pomegranate seeds, then more chocolate and then the last layer of pomegranate seeds.
  5. Finish with a pinch of sea salt (optional) on each of the chocolate pomegranate bites.
  6. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Once removed from the refrigerator, serve immediately.

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