Friday, 2 April 2010
This is the finest time of year for the temperate garden, late ripening figs, chestnuts, hints of a great fungi season are revealed. Apples are at their best, the pears are ripe, quinces are on the way and... The Pomegranates Have Landed.
Over the years the problem with pomegranates [for me] has been how to tell the white seeded ones from the red ones without cutting them up? The white ones are very sweet but there is little complexity compared to the red ones that have a sublime sweet/sour balance with a unique flavour.
Last week I plucked up the courage to ask my pomegranate seller, a gentle Iranian man at the top of A shed at the Victoria Market how to tell the difference. At first they both look the same but take a very close look; the white ones have a telltale white ghosting around the tiny spots on the skin but the red ones have even smaller spots just a bit closer together with no white outline.
For an introduction to the extraordinary history/cultivation/use of this fruit you could start with Louis Glowinski’s complete guide to Fruit Growing in Australia and meet Persephone and her downfall with Hades due to seven pomegranate seeds. The symbolism continues throughout the ancient world.
You may have noticed a marked improvement in the quality of Australian pomegranates that up to a few years ago were nowhere near the quality of imported American varieties. The flower is spectacular, its up there with a passionfruit flower for sheer beauty. In the city I often glean a few fruit from neglected trees planted for decoration. I use them fo enliven rice dishes added at the end after cooking or add them to salads. They are a splendid addition to yoghurt, make a spectacular sorbet, the juice can be used in the cooking of duck or lamb and of course is the base for grenadine.
But I prefer them raw as a cool contrast in a spicy pilaf or tajine.
Back to the harvest......