A couple of mature pomegranate trees grew on our farm, probably planted there years before my father bought the land. This was decades before pomegranates became popular in modern cuisine, yet we loved pulling the ripe apple-sized, leathery fruit from the trees, breaking them open, and eating the beautiful red arils inside. Somehow, the small plastic tubs of pomegranate rubies I occasionally buy from the supermarkets do not taste the same: they still look beautiful, but lack the tangy, crisp taste of newly opened fruit.
These days the consumption of pomegranate fruit or juice is widely touted for its high vitamin C content as well as other health benefits ranging from assisting arthritis sufferers, Alzheimer’s, preventing cancer to improving one’s memory. We were ignorant of all these things and merely enjoyed the taste and the fact that such fruit was freely available.
Pomegranates are native to northern India and Iran and have formed part of the Middle Eastern diet since antiquity. They have only recently been grown on a commercial scale in South Africa, doubtless following the world-wide trend in ‘healthy living’ and the fruit being regarded as a ‘super-food’. As they grow best in a Mediterranean climate, it is not surprising to find the bulk of our local production is in the Western Cape.
You can read more about their local production at http://southafrica.co.za/pomegranate-production-south-africa.html