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All about Pomegranates


Learn about the pomegranate, a mythological and delicious fruit!

History of the pomegranate

Pomegranates are an ancient fruit. They have been mentioned in ancient texts like the Greek poet Homer’s epics The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Pomegranates first grew in Iran, and are now grown across the Middle East and Asia. Pomegranates grow in the United States, in California and Arizona.

The pomegranate’s name comes from Latin: pomum means apple, which the pomegranate resembles. Granum means grain in Latin, as the juicy arils look like grain seeds.

Pomegranates have been found in artwork of many cultures. In ancient Egyptian art, pomegranates, were a symbol of prosperity and wealth. In Greek art, pomegranates are a symbol of love and home.

Pomegranates are not just delicious, they were also useful resources to past civilizations. Ancient Egyptians used pomegranates to make dye to color fabric bright red.

Viewed up close, pomegranate peel is bumpy and almost leathery. The peel of a pomegranate is thick and strong. In ancient Greece, shoes were made from pomegranate peels!

Pomegranates and the four seasons

People in ancient Greece believed in gods and goddesses as a way to understand their world. If there was bad weather, with thunder, for example, people believed this was due to Zeus’ actions, since he was the god of the sky. Making sense of the physical world—from oceans to earthquakes to stars—relied on believing in these gods. The cycle of seasons also has a myth associated with it, and with the pomegranate too.

Beautiful Persephone was the daughter of Zeus, god of the sky and ruler of all the gods, and Demeter, goddess of the earth. Persephone, a teenager, was with her friends gathering flowers. Suddenly, Hades, the god of death and the underworld, appeared and kidnapped her. She was beautiful that he wanted to marry her and make her his queen of the underworld. She could not escape and was his prisoner below the earth. She was so sad that she lost her appetite and ate and drank nothing. She missed the sunshine.

Her mother, Demeter, was so sad that the earth started to lose its green color, and leaves and plants began to wither. She searched and searched for Persephone and learned what happened. Finally, she asked Zeus to demand that Hades return Persephone to the earth’s surface. Hades agreed, but only if Persephone truly did not have any food or drink in the underworld. She was found to have eaten six tiny pomegranate seeds, and for this she was penalized. 

She spent six months of the year above the earth with her mother, and six months of the year with her husband as queen of the underworld, when her mother was so sad that the earth turns cold and nothing grows. As Demeter’s tears of sadness soaked the earth, like rain, eventually, spring comes, as does Persephone out from the underworld. This is why the Greeks believed there were seasons.

How to prepare pomegranates

A pomegranate’s seeds are in white pulp that is spongy. Removing seeds can be messy. Fill a bowl with water and while holding a segment of a pomegranate below water, separate and remove arils. Gently dry arils and eat!

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