The fruit belongs to the species Punica granatum of the family Lythraceae. The plant is a deciduous shrub 5-10m (10-33 inches) high with spiny branches.
Pomegranate is originally from the Mediterranean region but is now widely cultivated around the world. It was introduced to California by Spanish settlers as early as 1769.
The fruit is yellow to red to purple-red in colour, 2-5 inches (5-12cm) in diameter, with a thick leathery peel. The inside is divided by white pithy membranes. Each compartment contains several seeds surrounded by a pink gelatinous flesh called an aril. The number of seeds is variable but can range from 200-1400 seeds per fruit.
The seeds and gelatinous aril are compressed to extract the juice which can be sweet to sour depending on the fruit. The deep red colour of the juice is due to presence of anthocyanins and ellagitannins. The sour taste is due to presence of polyphenols.
The juice is popularly sold as pomegranate juice. It’s also used to make smoothies, cocktails and fruit blends. The juice can also be used in cooking or baking.
Fresh Pomegranate seeds
Are mainly used as a garnish or added to salads or foods.
Dried Pomegranate Seeds
The seeds are dried and sold whole or ground and used as spice or a garnish. They can be added to curries or chutneys to enhance a mildly sour taste.