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Pomegranates for every day
Pomegranates for every day

The growing demand for pomegranate has recently pushed to evaluate strategies to improve the shelf-life and extend the sale beyond the ripening period of the fruit. The goal of the producers is to have the pomegranate available everyday.

The delicate point of departure is the maturation process. By nature, the pomegranate is a non-climacteric fruit, i.e. it does not complete maturation once severed from the tree.Therefore it is essential to harvest the fruits after they have fully ripened, when they reach the pinnacle of their organoleptic, nutritional and functional properties. In fact, a late harvest leads to the rapid deterioration of the fruit, that does not tolerate long-term storage.

How to harvest? It is essential to proceed with care because vigorous manipulations could cause abrasions and cracks on the skin, affecting the nutrients. Inevitably, these lesions would increase the proliferation of bacteria responsible of mold during storage. Therefore, it is recommended to cut the fruit from the tree, using shears for pruning the leaves.

Pomegranates for every day
Pomegranates for every day

During the phase of post harvest it is important not to alter the nature of the fruit, as the pomegranate has reached the optimum degree of moisture in order to be preserved. It Will be ready for fresh consumption (the same day or within 4-5 days), but refrigeration will be required for longer storage.

At home, it will be kept in plastic bags at the usual refrigerator temperature, while specialized companies will wrap pomegranates containers with specific plastic films or in special envelopes, adjusting the thermostat depending on the months of storage and the characteristics of the variety (degree of sugars, maturation etc.).

 

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How many beans has a pomegranate?
How many beans has a pomegranate?

Ask yourself how many beans does a pomegranate contain? You can try and guess the number of beans or arils stowed in the astringent and fleshy pulp of this berry. You can count at least six hundred, of these ruby gems. Garnet red, like featured on the flag of the beautiful Andalusian city of Granada, the most famous processing center of this fruit.
We like to think of this bulbous fruit and crowned, also called “balaustio”, as a small kingdom and its vinous grains, as its bright inhabitants. Hundreds of polygon shaped seeds, divided only by a thin film ocher, almost transparent probably still waiting for a definition.
Those who still disbelieve that his berry contains so many beans, and those, with a dose of patience can count them and maybe give them a sense of honesty and fairness. As did the Jewish people by comparing them to the six hundred and thirteen mitzvot or inscriptions written in the Torah or like the Babylonians who chewed them before battle to become invincible.
With this fruit metaphors are amplified and meanings lost among the various civilizations that have attributed many symbolisms to this fruit.

How many beans has a pomegranate?
The secret of fertility could lie for example in the number of its own beans or maybe even because it was the first plant (the pomegranate tree) Venus deity planted in her garden in honor of Zeus. This metaphor would then passed throughout Europe to this day within the paintings of fourteen hundred artists, who used to put the pomegranate in the hands of mystical figures just like an apple for the hope for a new conception and as a donation from another being to mankind.

 

Photo credits: Thor 

 

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Pomegranate, salt and water
Pomegranate, salt and water

The pomegranate is a versatile plant but at the same time demanding and has water as its Achilles heel.
Although the “fruit of life” doesn’t dislike the driest areas, it needs regular watering during the dry season to increase the crop yield, quality and fruit size.
But beware, the pomegranate tree dislikes standing water or marshes, therefore requires only small amounts of water to show its full splendor.
Both within the domestic cultivation, or intensive cultivation using potted plants, the approach is identical.
In the house garden you will need to water it once every two to three weeks, while in the field will be necessary to adopt drip irrigation. This technique is also used to monitor the progress of maturation and directing the crop to a more convenient period. Furthermore, drip irrigation with the aid of advanced computerized equipment is used to administer fertilizers through the water supply.

The pomegranate adapts easily even in soils irrigated with high salt content water due to the strong resistance of its tissues to salt. This property is very significant given the devastating effects usually caused by the use of saline water, such as memory, toxicity, decreased quality, reduced absorption of nutrients, and production.

However, it should be noted that in the presence of water with high salt content it becomes even more necessary for drip irrigation to avoid harmful salt concentrations in the soil explored by the roots.

Photo credits: amira_a https://www.flickr.com/photos/amira_a/7803558452

 

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The pomegranate: an ally of stomach and intestine
The pomegranate: an ally of stomach and intestine

Some stomach-related disorders like inflammation of the stomach and intestinal gastritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome have become more and more common among the population. These diseases are caused by a malfunction of the immune system, which can generate an inflammation in the lining of the intestine.

Numerous studies have shown that pomegranates can have benefits on the intestine. In fact, it has been remarked that the pomegranate contains more than 100 substances, most of which having antioxidant properties. The most abundant substances are the ellagitannins and anthocyanins. These act as an anti-inflammatory and regulate the immune system; they also improve the symptoms of some of these diseases now so widespread and common.

The antioxidants in the pomegranate have the ability to withstand the acidic environment in the stomach and harmonise in the gut perfectly. Here they activate a series of molecular mechanisms that help in the reduction of the substances responsible for the inflammation.

Furthermore, it has also been noted that the pomegranate has antimicrobial potentials, and acts against pathogenic bacteria within the intestine. The antioxidant and functional substances contained in the pomegranate, have the ability to create specific environmental conditions that are unfavorable for the spread of harmful bacteria, to the benefit of the intestinal microflora.

The interesting thing is that these functions have been observed in different extracts from the pomegranate, including the flowers and the skin, also within the oil and the juice extracted from the fruits seeds.

 

The pomegranate: an ally of stomach and intestine
The pomegranate: an ally of stomach and intestine

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2013 A Review on the Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Pomegranate in the Gastrointestinal Tract Elisa Colombo,1 Enrico Sangiovanni,1 andMario Dell’Agli1,2

 

Photo credits: JMacPherson: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lipstickproject/10529102344

 

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Crispy wild rice on pomegranate
Crispy wild rice on pomegranate

A tasty and easy dish to make, a delicious risotto that lovers of sweet and sour and vegan cuisine will definitely appreciate.

 

BITS AND BOBS – SERVE 4

400 g brown wild rice

300 g peeled pomegranate

Balsamic vinegar

A pinch of sugar

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Crispy wild rice on pomegranate

Crispy wild rice on pomegranate

READY…STEADY…COOK!

Boil the rice for the time indicated on the box. In the meanwhile prepare the pomegranate sauce: put the seeds in a hand blender beaker – remember to keep a few seeds apart for the final decoration, and blend with oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste : the flavour should be somewhere between sour pomegranate and round oil.

Blend until creamy. If the mixture seems too thick and difficult to blend, add a splash of water and continue mixing until you get a smooth, frothy sauce, and then put it in the fridge.

Drain the rice. Heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the rice on a high heat, so that it gets crispy.

Pour a little pomegranate sauce in a dish, then add the brown rice (use a cooking ring if available) and decorate with pomegranate seeds.

 

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Pomegranate scallops
Pomegranate scallops

In this recipe the buttery texture of the scallops meets the bittersweet taste of the pomegranate, the bitterness of the rocket and the crunchy almonds: flavours and textures in balance with each other in a recipe for special occasions.

 

BITS AND BOBS – SERVE 4

FOR THE SKEWERS

Half a pomegranate

8 small scallop skewers

1 TBS olive oil

Salt and pepper

FOR THE SALAD:

fresh rocket

half a pomegranate

40 g flaked almonds

Olive oil, salt and pepper for the seasoning

 

FOR THE JELLY

1 pomegranate

3 gelatine sheets

Black pepper

PREP TIME: 3 hrs 15’

Pomegranate scallops
Pomegranate scallops

 

READY…STEADY…COOK!

THE SKEWERS

Gently clean the scallops and thread them onto wood skewers. Split open a pomegranate and squeeze half its seeds. Filter the juice and set aside.

Heat a non-stick frying pan. Cook the skewers over a high heat for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper. Pour the pomegranate juice before serving.

 

THE GELLY

Soak the gelatine sheets in a bowl with cold water for 5 to 10 minutes.

Split a pomegranate and squeeze the seeds. Filter the juice and pour it in a small saucepan.

Add a pinch of black pepper and when the juice is about to boil, wring gently the gelatine sheets and add them to the warm liquid. Turn off the gas and stir until the sheets melt.

Cover a baking tray with cling film and pour on the jelly. Let it set in the fridge for 3 hours, or until the jelly is solid. When the jelly is ready, cut into cubes. Serve with rocket salad, pomegranate seeds and flaked almonds.

 

 

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pomegranate
pomegranate

In alternative medicine, particularly in Eastern traditions, the pomegranate is widely used as a remedy, and is used in its entirety. For example, in the tradition of Ayurvedic medicine the root and bark are considered and used as a vermifuge against intestinal parasites; dried extracts of pomegranate peel, also help cure canker sores and ulcers. The extracts of the flower are used in Unani medicine as a remedy for diabetes.

Pharmacological studies have confirmed these properties: the extracts from pomegranate flowers have a hypoglycemic property that improves glucose tolerances after a meal. It has also been observed that some other properties of the pomegranate flowers have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects: the extracts from the flowers inhibit factors that induce toxicity and inflammation, and their action is particularly noticeable in the liver. Other studies have been carried out to try and understand the role of pomegranate flower extracts on fat metabolism. It has been observed that treatment with pomegranate flower extracts improve the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.

pomegranate

This is an important discovery because of the implications it may have in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases, as well as complications with diabetes, which is often associated with the problems of fat metabolism.

 

Photo credits: Vinay Shivakumar 

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Pomegranate, or the apple from carthage
Pomegranate, or the apple from carthage

If we go back in time and get hold of the “Natural History” by Gaius Plinius Secundus, better known as Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD), Chapter XIII chapter, lines 112-113, we will find a reference to a “Punic grenade” or the apple of Carthage.

And it is exactly the area around Carthage that stakes its claim, as suggested by the name, on the “Punic apple”, later called pomegranate. Pomegranate comes in several varieties: “apirena” or seedless, is the one without the wooden kernel, light peel, with sweeter grains separated by less bitter membranes. The structure of the pomegranate reminds of the honeycombs, with the grains within an unpeculiar pulp. Pomegranates are divided into five types, according to their taste: sweet, sour, bitter-sweet, sour, winey.

 

The name “pomegranate” comes from the Latin “malum” (apple) and “granatum” (seeds). And this derivation is also present in other languages, such as in English “Pomegranate”, and in German “Granatapfel” (apple with seeds). Or in the case of Old English, where it was known as the “apple of Grenada”. In facts, the Spanish city of Granada has a pomegranate in its coat of arms, since in Spanish and old French the words “granada” and “grenade” mean pomegranate.

But let’s put aside the etymology for a moment, to get back to our Pliny and his History of nature. The author reckoned that the pomegranates got to Rome from Tunisia. In fact, the name “Punic” is derived from the Roman name of the geographic region of Tunisia and the coastal population of the same name, also called the Carthaginian. The “Punic apple”, was for him the apple of Carthage. Pliny claimed that the best fruits – as they already existed in the Italian territory – came from Carthage. Although today we know that our dear fruit comes from western Asia, we like to take it for a walk (or let it carry us around!) through the history, the tradition, the myths, the legends that have blossomed around this fruit.

Photo credits: Fulvio Spada 

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carducci pomegranate
carducci pomegranate

“I had all my joys, my hopes, my future wrapped around that child of mine; all the good things in my soul were tied up with the heartbeat of that child”; these were the words that the poet Giosuè Carducci wrote to his friend Giuseppe Chiarini in a letter dated November 14th, 1870.

The sudden passing of the poet’s son, Dante, occurred a few days before, on November 9th, was a tutto quel che mi era rimasto di buono nell’anima lo aveva deposto su quella testina terrible blow. And the poem he wrote, almost a mourning prayer, was left without a title for a long time.

It’s “Pianto Antico” (The Ancient Lament), a poem originally opening with a few lines from the greek poet Mosco. The title arrived in 1879, together with “Fuori alla Certosa di Bologna” (Out at Bologna Charterhouse), recalling the farewell to the poor child in the last stanza. Carducci sent the poem to his friend with a note: “I am sending you an elegy borne on an ancient memory”. Hence, from an ancient memory came The Ancient Lament, and its title.

In this poem, the contrast between the end of a life and the nature (rapresented by the pomegranate tree) that comes to life again, is more than striking.

The light and the warmth of the spring awaken life over and over again, while nothing can take little Dante away from the eternal stillness of his dark and cold grave. On the one side is the green pomegranate tree, its vermillion flowers, the light and the heat, love and sun…and it its counterpart, with the mute solitary garden and the black cold ground.

The pomegranate tree, that was actually in the poet’s courtyard in Bologna, in contrast with death, and the return of the spring and the flowers arouse happiness, evoked phonetically by three words in Italian (verde, vermigli, rinverdì / green, vermillion, turn green) suggesting that something will re-turn.

 

Photo credits: nickliv

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Pomegranate buche de noel receip
Pomegranate buche de noel receip

A soft sponge cake roll with lemon custard and pomegranate seeds that will liven up the Christmas season.

BITS AND BOBS
for the roll:
4 eggs
100g sugar
50g potato starch
baking powder
cinnamon

for the filling:
500 ml milk
4 egg yolks
150g caster sugr
50g of flour
the peel of an organic lemon

For the decoration:
pomegranate seeds
icing sugar
Prep time: 1 hour + 3 hours’ rest

Pomegranate buche de noel

READY…STEADY…COOK!

Preheat oven at 180*.

Place the milk in a pan and bring to the boil. Whisk the egg yolk with the sugar and flour. Gently pour the milk int he mixture. Add the lemon zest and whisk until it starts to thicken and gets to a light boil. Let cool and remove the lemon peel.
Prepare the sponge base whisking together the eggs ans sugar until light and fluffy. Sift in flour and starch and fold it into the mixture, mixing from top to bottom. Line the base of a swiss roll tin with baking parchment and carefully pour the mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.
Take the base of the oven and leave it on the baking parchment. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and roll the base. After a few minutes unroll and remove baking parchment. Spread the custard over the base and top with pomegranate seeds. Reroll the cake starting from the short side. Wrap in parchment and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, then remove parchment and sprinkle with icing sugar and pomegranate seeds.

Photo credits: Manuela Boccone