Pick A Pomegranate: How To Tell If A Pomegranate Is Ripe
Pomegranates come in a large number of varieties, differing in fruit shape, color, and taste, with some of them being rather sour even when fully ripe - such varieties are excellent for syrups and other processed foods based on pomegranates.
However, finding sweet, aromatic, fully ripe pomegranate, either in the store or in the garden, should not be a problem, just take a good look and pick the pomegranate in your hand...
Published: September 30, 2022.
Ripe Pomegranate Fruits
First of all, even if You pick a fully ripe pomegranate, that doesn't mean that it is going to be sweet - it all depends on the variety.
Even the reddest, fully ripe, most aromatic pomegranate can be sour, almost like an acid.
So, if You are picking the pomegranate at the store, ask what kind or variety the pomegranate is, or even ask them to open one for You - fortunately, many stores do open their pomegranates (one or two fruits), allowing the customers to see the color and size of arils and even allowing the customers to try few arils.
If the store doesn't allow that, be suspicious about the taste and fragrance of the offered pomegranates.
However, there are a few details to look for in order to determine if the pomegranate is ripe or not, regardless of whether You are in the store or your own garden.
Unripe pomegranates are generally round fruits.
As the pomegranates ripen, the arils swallow, changing the round shape of the pomegranate into a slightly angular shape with (usually) five sides/ridges.
Also, the top and bottom of the fruit (blossom/stamen cluster end; stem end) are becoming flatter.
As the arils grow in size, they also grow in weight - when You take a fully ripe pomegranate in your hand, it should be quite heavy for its size, especially if You have your garden and when you can compare pomegranates with the same fruits a few weeks ago.
Unripe pomegranates are mostly greenish when unripe, with almost no traces of green when fully ripe.
However, this depends on the variety/cultivar.
Unripe pomegranate skin is hard and smooth, while ripe pomegranate skin is softer and rough and can be easily scratched even by a nail.
Such soft and rough skin cracks easily as the arils grow and swallow. However, if the pomegranate tree doesn't get enough water during the growing period and is watered heavily before pomegranates are fully ripe, the fruits can crack open even when not being fully ripe.
Tapping a finger on the fruit is a tricky indicator of whether the pomegranate is ripe or not.
Note: This method is very similar to tapping the watermelons in order to check if they are ripe or not.
Anyway, take the pomegranate in your hand and tap it with one finger - unripe pomegranate sounds hollower than the fully ripe fruits full of juicy arils.
Birds And Other Animals
If You have your own garden, be sure to observe birds and other animals - if they start to pick the pomegranate arils, they are fully ripe or at least almost fully ripe.
Some birds will even try to open the undamaged pomegranate fruits in order to get to their fleshy arils - and if the pomegranates are good for them, they are good for You too.
Long Story Short: although pomegranates come in a huge number of cultivars and varieties, check the pomegranate skin, color, shape, and weight to see if it is ripe or not - You can even tap it a little bit.
If You can try a few arils, even better.
However, note that some cultivars are very sour even when fully ripe...