By Nadia Ali. I love fruits, especially ones without much seeds like the local fruits of mango and pommecythere which only have one seed. So, can you imagine trying to eat a fruit with about 600 seeds in it? Fortunately, the Pomegranate or Punica granatum which is Latin for “apple with many seeds” is juicy, sweet and has edible seeds, not to mention a beautiful rose colour.
The pomegranate is considered an “ancient food” because it is mentioned in religious texts and its image has been used in mosaics in ancient Rome, Egyptian tombs and etched onto the walls of the Alhambra Islamic palaces in Spain. It is native to the Middle East and Asia and was first introduced to the Caribbean by the Spanish.
A pomegranate tree was first introduced to me by my father-in-law who graciously bought me a seedling for my garden. He called it “anaar” which is how it is referred to in the Middle East and India. Over the years it has grown, almost withered away and bloomed again. There are a number of red flowers on it right now, small buds and two or three pomegranates that are almost fist size. It’s a beautiful tree with bright green leaves and brilliant red almost tulip-like flowers that seem to light up in the Caribbean sun.
Inspired by my own Pomegranate tree
It is a fruit that has steadily grown in popularity due to recent scientific research that proved its numerous health benefits. This in turn has pushed the worldwide production to about 2.5 million tonnes a year. Of which, nearly 85 percent of that figure is produced by India and Iran collectively. Yet, here it is growing in my own backyard. It attracts birds, insects and glorious hummingbirds that dart in and out on occasion.
A long time ago, the pomegranate was eaten only as a juicy fruit, picked from the tree opened and consumed. Nowadays, almost every part of the pomegranate has a health benefit, from the rind and the bark being used as a remedy against diarrhea, to the juice boosting immunity. It also assists in the fight against heart disease, the spread of cancer and the wrinkly side of the aging process. It also helps with digestive problems, reduces stress, improves bone quality and helps to raise the haemoglobin levels in the blood. It’s no wonder it’s considered a “super fruit”.
There are recipes that encourage the use of pomegranates as part of a salad, in desserts, as a chutney and is the ingredient that gives the flavour and rich red colour to Grenadine Syrup which originates right here in the Caribbean from St Vincent and the Grenadines.
In Trinidad and Tobago, it is common to see pomegranate trees growing to a height of about ten-feet tall in neighbourhood gardens. Fortunately, my garden is one of them and I keep an eye on the number of blooming red flowers, hoping they will remain on the tree to produce another pomegranate that brings a burst of rich flavour and rich health benefits.
August 2014 – Issue 11 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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