As summer has turned into fall, we in Israel anticipate the arrival of ripe pomegranates on our tables. They are a beautiful shade of red on the outside, and brimming with juicy, scarlet seeds—called arils—on the inside. Pomegranate arils have a sweet-tart taste and are included in dozens of seasonal recipes or enjoyed as freshly-squeezed juice.
Pomegranates were first cultivated in the Middle East and Mediterranean region before branching out India, China and across to the Americas. They came to symbolize different blessings to different cultures including fertility (of people and of crops), success and righteousness.
One of the seven species closely associated with the land of Israel (Deut. 8:8), pomegranates are one of the fruits brought back by the 12 men Moses sends to “spy out” the land God has promised to the Israelites (Numbers 13). The distinctive globe-like shape of the pomegranate appeared on both the vestments of the high priest in Jerusalem’s Holy Temple and carved into Solomon’s Palace.
Grown on hardy, low-growing trees, pomegranates are a fine match to Israel’s climate. Ideal growing conditions for them include hot summers and cool (not freezing!) winters. They are fine with extended dry periods and have even been called “drought-tolerant”—perfect for our long, hot, dry summers! (Read our post about the first rains in Israel this fall…)
Although prized for their taste and shapeliness for centuries, modern science has uncovered that the pomegranate is a nutritional powerhouse. Don’t miss the benefits of the pomegranate’s beauty and brawn!
Stay tuned for more posts about the health benefits of pomegranates.