I had never purchased a pomegranate before moving to the Middle East. They don't grow in Louisiana (that I know of) and they are always super expensive at the grocery so I usually pass them by. But when we got to Amman, they were everywhere and surprisingly cheap! It makes sense because the pomegranate has been cultivated in the Mediterranean region since Biblical times. It's actually one of the oldest fruits recorded in history, included in various ancient texts and works of art. When you walk the streets of Jordan and Israel you'll pass juice stands that offer freshly squeezed pomegranate juice along with the more common orange and grapefruit options. Whether eating the seeds (more properly known as 'arils') or drinking the juice, I can understand why it is such a beloved fruit. Not only is it perfectly tart and delicious but it offers incredible nutrients for your body. Let's take a closer look at the pomegranate...
Pomegranates are a great source of vitamin c, vitamin k, dietary fiber, and folate. They also contain polyphenols, chemical compounds that are powerful antioxidants linked to reduced risks of heart disease and cancer. It is this component that has made them quite popular for research in recent years. Although not enough studies have been done on the pomegranate specifically, we do know their vitamins and nutrients alone make them valuable for our overall health. Detailed nutritional information can be found here.
AT THE MARKET:
Pomegranates are in season during the winter months. They are picked ripe so the fruit is ready to eat when you buy it. You want to choose one that feels heavy for its size with soft, leathery skin that gives slightly. Avoid any shriveled skin. It is ideal to find them at your local farmers market if they grow where you live. If that isn't an option, speciality grocery stores usually have them in stock or at the very least they will have pomegranate juice, which is a good alternative to the fruit itself. Just be sure to read your labels and buy 100% juice!
IN YOUR KITCHEN:
Whole fruits can be kept at room temperature for up to one week or refrigerated for at least one month (some sources claim up to two months). If the seeds have been removed, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
A great way to stock up on this tart treat for warmer months is by freezing the seeds. They will keep up to 6 months in a airtight bag. Simply remove seeds from pomegranate, place on a cookie sheet and leave out to dry. Once dried put them into an airtight bag and pop into the freezer. Quick and easy!
INTRODUCING TO BABIES:
A baby can have freshly squeezed pomegranate juice around 8 months of age. It should not include additional sweeteners and should be limited to a small amount. In my personal opinion, I would wait until around 1 year before introducing it. Breastmilk (or formula) is the best source for liquids before then. Plus, the nutrients found in pomegranates are also found in other vegetables (like tomatoes) that will contain less sugar. If you want to give the juice a try, here is a great resource for making homemade pomegranate juice. A toddler can have the seeds around 2+ years of age, or once you know he is capable of chewing them properly. They can be a choking hazard for young children so you should never leave your child alone while eating them. But they can also be a really fun food to eat! Which leads me to the next point...
INVOLVING YOUR LITTLE SOUS-CHEF:
*Pomegranates have become one of our favorite snacks! After nap, we'll sit on our outside patio, put on some jazz (it's a favorite around here) and slowly eat our way through fresh pieces of pomegranate. My son loves to pick out the seeds and enjoys eating the fruits of his labor. Oh, and be sure to remove any clothes you don't want stained because the juice will do just that;)
*Test out the "Seedy Situation" science experiment if your kids are a little older.
*Create a Bible Land Food Display to teach little ones about the various foods mentioned in the Bible and gain an appreciation for cultural history. Yummy food + history lesson = win!
*Use pomegranates as a way to get your kids to try other new foods. For example, I included a handful of arils on a kale&quinoa salad for dinner last night, and my son at his entire plate! I've found this to be a great way to get him to try foods he otherwise wouldn't.
RECIPES + IDEAS:
First things first: how do we remove all of those seeds (hundreds are found in just one pomegranate)? I've tried this method and this method, and they both work great to remove them as easily as possible. Once removed, you can eat them plain or sprinkle on top of almost anything: yogurt, salads, ice cream, oatmeal, you name it! If you want to mix them into a recipe here are some that look delicious for both adults and littles alike...
Pomegranate White Chocolate Scones
Crispy Kale, Butternut Squash & Pomegranate Pizza (umm...yes please!)
Dark Chocolate & Pomegranate Bark
Tu B’Shvat Tart
Pomegranate Sangria (not kid friendly, but this one is for you mama b/c it looks too good;)
I’ve also been pinning other recipes and ideas if you want to join me over there! Have you tried pomegranates before? Does your little one like the sweet-tartness? Let us know your thoughts on the beloved pomegranate!
*A note on introducing solids to babies: The AAP recommends “exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complimentary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.”
**Any information or opinions provided in this post are based on my own research and is not meant to be used as medical advise or in lieu of treatment from a doctor. Please consult your primary physician and/or pediatrician for what is best for you and your baby.