Sunday, October 23, 2011

The pomegranate saga, so far

This is my dwarf pomegranate 'Nana' (which is a cultivar name meaning "dwarf," or sometimes "dwarf, supposedly" though mine has barely topped two feet, so that's okay).  I bought it three years ago, grew it in increasingly larger pots, and brought it indoors for two winters so it could shed leaves all over a corner of my older son's room while he was away at college.  It is quite deciduous.  Flowers were produced rather randomly in spring and/or fall, but never fruits.

This year I decided I'd had enough; people do grow pomegranates in the DC area (though closer to DC than I am, in warmer microclimates) and the plant might be marginally hardy with winter protection.  So I planted it in a corner of the vegetable garden.  And what do you know: it bore fruit.  Six little pomegranates started to grow.

Yesterday I harvested four fruits (I suspect squirrels, for the others) which were not completely red but seemed worth trying.  I've eaten the biggest (lacrosse ball-sized) so far.  Seemed ripe enough.  Nice tart crunchy seeds - or, properly, arils (the aril is the thickened outgrowth of a seed that's usually there to tempt animals into eating it.  Mission accomplished).

Side note:  is it just me, or does anyone else wonder, on reading the Persephone myth, where the Lord of the Underworld came up with a pomegranate?  Does he have a greenhouse?  Can we please have a myth about the keeper of Hades' greenhouse?  Perhaps something about capturing a piece of the sun, and longing, and temptation, and skin cancer.  It's either that, or a delivery service (Styx Produce).

Anyway, if I were in the habit of praying to Persephone, I would do so this winter, since I'm going to try to winter over the Nana in the ground (little fence, row cover, leaves or straw stuffed in there) and am hoping to see new green leaves appear in spring.

Meanwhile, I will need to buy California pomegranates to make chocolate-covered arils, my favorite dessert*, which I'm expected to bring each year to a particular Christmas party.  The recipe no longer appears to be on the PomWonderful website (which, by the way, has the usual distribution of commercial site recipes, some of them very good and some An Excuse To Use Our Product, but it's worth checking out if you have just bought some pomegranates and aren't sure why).  But it's basically 2 cups of arils to 8 ounces of chocolate (dark preferred), or however the proportions work out for your pomegranates.  Separating the arils from the flesh is best done underwater to prevent spraying; get them nice and clean even though this is tedious.  Melt the chocolate, put it in a bowl with the arils, and mix.  Then take it up by forkfuls and plop onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper, so you have little bite-size mounds.  Stick that in the fridge for a while, and then put on a plate and serve.  Advise people to put them whole into their mouths, since they tend to explode slightly.

*Fellow Lois M. Bujold fans may insert appropriate (or inappropriate) joke here.

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