Friday, 2 April 2010

Pomegranates Red/White

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......


ut si said...

I've never seen an Australiam pome in Tas only expensive but delicious treat. Certainly a bountiful time of the year here. Have just arrived in Hobart with boot full of quinces for Scumps & fellow foodies.
Nice post. Cheers

Alison said...

George, don't know if you got my comment sent the other day.Sometimes blogger seems to work in very mysterious ways. Two questions about pomegranates. The very red ones don't seem to have very much flesh around the seeds - is this normal? And how do you tell if a pomegranate is ready for eating - prompted by the thought that those I bought may not have very fleshy seeds because they aren't ripe yet?
Last weekend I bought some tomatillos in Canberra and used them in salads with avocado - a la our Sunnybrae lunch last month. Thought they might be fun to grow here in Sydney - could you post a few more recipe ideas before I commit to a garden full. Would they make chutney - any other ideas on preserving?

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Hi Alison
Sorry but I did not get the last comment. Now...
Some strains of Pomegranates do not have very fleshy seeds. Up until a couple of years ago most Australian pomegranates were a bit ordinary compared to imported fruit so you may have got an imature one or one thats not too fleshy. How to tell ripeness is a bit hard but you just have to look inside one. Greengrocers [except for supermarkets] usually open one up to show you ripeness. The ripe ones are also very heavy. If you have a tree the largest and most coloured fruit should be picked first this will gauge the ripness of the tree. They will keep for a long time but not if they are already split.
With the tomatillo you can make a traditional salsa verde in the Mexican style with chilli coriander and lime. You can pickle them as per green tomatoes, also makes good chutney. I am drying some at present and they are very sweet. Mexican recipes abound with them sometimes with Pomegranates in the same dish.
The skin melts when cooked so you do not have to peel them for sauce and they also have a very different but very appetising flavour when cooked.

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

I'm not censoring comments but incoming comments seem to be disapearing from the dashboard dont know why?

Alison said...

I warned you George that Blogger works in mysterious ways.
Thank you very much for all the info and ideas. And thank you for looking me up -'erudite' might be a bit hard to live up to!