Some varieties of pomegranate can look kind of dull and uninviting on the tree, but it isn’t the outside you’re going to eat, it’s the delicious juicy flesh surrounding the seeds. You’ll only find these once you cut the fruit open. Picking a pomegranate straight from the tree ensures you’re getting the freshest fruit possible and can enjoy it tossed in salads or sprinkled on meat dishes. Alternatively, try turning it into a super healthy juice. Here, we’ll discover how to pick pomegranates from a tree.
What You'll Learn Today
How To Tell If Pomegranate Is Ripe On Tree?
There are various ways to tell if a pomegranate is ripe:
Starting with the color. A ripe pomegranate can be a variety of different colors from a deep red to a creamy beige depending on the cultivar. One thing to look out for is any signs of green.
A ripe pomegranate should be a uniform color all over with no areas of green at all. Check each fruit over carefully before cutting it from the branch.
Note that once picked, pomegranates don’t ripen any further, they simply start to decay.
The skin of a ripe pomegranate takes on a leathery feel that’s easy to pierce with your fingernail. When pomegranates become overripe, you will start seeing splits in the skin, as the juice from the ripe seeds inside starts exerting too much pressure for the skin to withstand.
If you look at the two ends of the pomegranate you will see that the top and bottom are relatively flat when the fruit is ripe. The sides will also have flatter plains rather than being perfectly round, which actually indicates that the fruit is not yet ready to harvest.
Sound When Tapping
If you tap a pomegranate, it will sound hollower when it’s unripe and less hollow when ready to pick. This is because as it ripens it fills with juice and the pith is squeezed and compressed inside.
If you take a pomegranate in your hand, it should feel heavy, because if it’s ripe, it will be full of juice.
A fruit that is light in the hand probably needs longer on the tree to ripen a little more.
You can use this test on pomegranates in the store too.
When To Pick A Pomegranate Off The Tree?
You’ll notice flowers starting to appear on your pomegranate trees in late spring, they often continue to flower until early fall.
Depending on which cultivar you have, some are bred specifically for their showy double blooms, while others are all about fruit production.
The fruit grows and ripens in five to seven months after the flower is pollinated. Luckily pomegranates are usually self-pollinating, so don’t need a partner tree, although cross-pollination always produces more prolific fruiting and better fruits.
The flowers grow on the ends of the branches, so be careful not to prune these off if you want a good crop.
As your tree matures, it will increase its fruit production and you can expect them to keep producing a good number of pomegranates until the tree reaches around 15 years of age.
At this point, you can do a severe prune to encourage a lot of new wood to grow, which can help rejuvenate the tree.
Depending on the cultivar you have, as well as weather and soil conditions, you can expect to pick ripe pomegranates from late summer to early winter.
How To Pick A Good Pomegranate?
In truth, you don’t pick a pomegranate. Because they are firmly attached to a branch and require cutting off.
If you pull a pomegranate from the tree, you’re likely to cause damage to one or both in the process.
When cutting off your ripe pomegranates, use a sharp, clean pair of pruning shears and wipe the blades with rubbing alcohol between each cut to avoid spreading disease.
Hold the fruit gently in one hand and cut it from the tree as close to the base of the fruit as possible.
In this video, you’ll see how to judge when your pomegranates are ripe and ready for harvesting:
How To Tell If A Pomegranate Is Bad?
When a pomegranate is ripe, the arils which are the fleshy juicy, jewel-like parts surrounding each of the many seeds found inside a pomegranate, are filled with delicious juice.
Once a ripe pomegranate is picked from the tree, it doesn’t continue to ripen as many other fruits do. Instead, it starts a gradual process of decay. This is why picking the freshest pomegranates is so important, whether you get them right off the tree or from a store.
Keeping pomegranates in the refrigerator helps them stay fresh for longer, especially if they aren’t broken open. Simply place them in the chill boxes and they will last for several weeks.
If you’ve broken the fruit open, the arils can be placed in a plastic bag or suitable lidded container and will last for up to a week in the refrigerator.
You can also freeze the arils in freezer-proof containers for up to four months or convert them into juice which can last for eight to twelve months when frozen.
Signs Your Pomegranate Has Gone Bad
There are several signs to look out for when judging if your pomegranate is still good to eat:
- Color and appearance
The leathery skin of a pomegranate is good at keeping the fruit edible for a surprisingly long time. Even if the skin seems a little withered and wrinkled, often the fruit inside will still be fine.
Conversely, a fruit that appears still supple and fleshy on the outside can be bad on the inside. This is often caused by the fruit being handled roughly and bruised during harvesting and transportation.
When a pomegranate reaches full ripeness, it is filled with juice in the arils surrounding the seeds. This makes the fruit feel heavy in your hand. If it feels light, it is either unripe or has gone bad.
The fruit should feel firm but not hard or soft to the touch.
When kept for too long, particularly in a warm environment, pomegranates begin to ferment. This will give them a vinegary smell and they should be discarded.
Just as a bad pomegranate can smell bad, it will definitely taste bad too!
Color and appearance
If your pomegranate has turned soft and brown on the outside, then it will likely be bad on the inside. When you cut a bad pomegranate open the arils won’t be juicy and jewel-like, they will be smooshy and often discolored brown. Time to throw it in the trash.
I have to admit that I really look forward to the pomegranate season each year. As a little girl when I was first introduced to these rather strange-looking fruits, I immediately fell in love with their sweet, sharp flavor.
There are hundreds of varieties of pomegranate and they come in a range of sizes from that of golf balls to softballs. Some are sour and some are sweet, while others are in between.
Picking pomegranates fresh from your own tree is such a treat. I love to use them in couscous salads or sprinkled on slow-cooked shredded lamb with fresh ripped mint leaves.
The key is to remember to pick them at peak ripeness as they won’t ripen further once you’ve removed them from the tree. Also, to cut them off, don’t pull.
To discover more about this ancient fruit, have a look at our other pomegranate articles.