When are pomegranates in season?
They start to show up in October and last through December and sometimes January. This is also the same time you'll likely see pomegranate arils sold separately in stores. The majority of pomegranates in the US come from California (they grow in Mediterranean climates).
They ship well, so even if you can't find them at your local farmers market, you should get a decent quality fruit at your grocery store. They don't ripen after harvest and they have a thick, leathery skin, making them transport well.
Pick pomegranates that looks plump and the skin is not dried out (that indicates they are old and on the decline).
Store them on the counter for a week, or in the fridge for several weeks. Arils (the seeds) will store for up to 1 week in the fridge.
How to eat & seed a pomegranate
Pomegranates don't have a flesh that you eat, per say. Instead, they have arils (the seeds) with a gel-like membrane of juice around them. You can either eat the seeds or juice them.
The most common use is to eat the seeds surrounded by their juice membrane by adding them as a garnish for a pop of sweet-tart flavor.
If you bought a whole pomegranate, you'll need to get the seeds out. This is a bit time consuming and very messy (wear old clothes!). To get the seeds out, cut them at the segments and hit it with a spoon to dislodge the seeds (video).
Why you should add pomegranate seeds to your dinners this winter
Pomegranate seeds (also called arils) add a bright tartness to food, making them a perfect way to cut through the heavy, richer foods we often cook in winter. Add them as a garnish to all sorts of dishes:
- Top an enchilada bake
- Add a pop of flavor to a steak salad (or any salad!)
- Add tartness to a stew (seems odd but is delicious)
If you haven't used these before,you can find them in stores in the refrigerated section, often by precut fresh fruits. You can also seed them yourself. 1 pomegranate yields ½ to ¾ cup of arils.
Have the seeds gone bad?
I've come across two types of problems when buying the arils. They are bad if they've started to decay and turn brown and so mushy they are hard to pick up. The other is when they smell like nail polish remover (acetone), a result from yeasts breaking down sugars from the fruit.
Pom Wonderful says it's not normal for them to smell like acetone, but it does happen (twitter). Throw them away and get a refund.
Should I buy organic?
The Environmental Protection Agency hasn't tested pomegranates in their latest public data, so I am not able to advise you in one direction or the other. Check out this organic vs conventional produce article for an in-depth look at the topic.
Pomegranate recipe collection
Each recipe below only uses ingredients that are in season at the same time as pomegranates, or ingredients that have a year-round season.
Early in the season...
Eat this when pomegranates first show up in October, before fig season ends in the same month
Spiced pumpkin turmeric oatmeal bowl with figs and pomegranates - recipe by Heather Christo
Cheesy sweet & sour pomegranate Thai chicken enchiladas - recipe by Half Baked Harvest
Bell peppers are out of season (from the US) in October or November depending on where you live.
Anytime pomegranates are in season...
Pomegranate steak salad (ready in 10-15 minutes) - recipe by Ask the Food Geek
Fennel, prosciutto, and pomegranate salad - recipe by Smitten Kitchen
Brussels sprouts salad with pomegranates and pan-fried goat cheese - recipe by Love & Olive Oil
Cranberry & pomegranate baked brie - recipe by Kitchen Confidante
Pomegranate and cranberry season both end in December.