Wondering if that sharp tang in your pomegranates might make them a citrus fruit ? After all, they smell amazing, like citrus fruits do. They’ve got a delicious flavor, like citrus do. And they have one of the most interesting structures of all the fruits out there, unlike citrus fruits.
There are quite a few fruits that are vegetables, vegetables that are fruits, fruits that are berries and so on. What’s stopping pomegranate from being an undercover citrus ? Let’s take a look.
Is pomegranate a citrus fruit ?
No, pomegranates are no citrus fruits. They belong to the Lythraceae family, while the citrus fruits belong to the Rutaceae. This makes them not even cousins, so there is no relation between the two plants and their respective fruits.
Pomegranates are native to Iran all the way to India, and has been cultivated along the Mediterranean basin for thousands of years. Citrus fruits are native to Asia (East, South, and Southeast), Australia, and part of Oceania.
Despite this difference, you can still combine pomegranates and oranges in a smoothie or juice them together.
What are citrus fruits ?
To clear things up, citrus fruits are the ones from the Rutaceae family, which produce thick skinned fruit, usually round, and with a high concentration of vitamin C.
Citrus fruits also have citrus oil in their skin, which is used extensively in fragrance. Their skins protect the inner segments, which contain juice-filled vesicles.
You most definitely know the vast majority of citrus fruits, at least by name. Some of the best examples are: oranges, lemons, limes, mandarins, pomelos, clementines, kumquats, citrons, blood oranges, bergamots, and a few others.
Read Also:Can Pomegranates Be Frozen ?
What kind of fruit is pomegranate ?
Pomegranates are actually a type of berry ! It has seeds produced from the ovary of a single flower, and the seeds are protected inside the fruit.
These fruits have a very different layout than most others. The fruit is made up of several non-symmetrical chambers or compartments, which contain the edible seeds. You may think the structure is similar in logic with citrus. Several chambers containing juicy mini-compartments.
But each citrus slice is made up of hundreds of vesicles, which have no seeds inside and are very thin. The seeds of a citrus fruits are separate from the vesicles, in the middle of the wedge.
In pomegranates, there are no vesicles, there are sarcotestas, which contain both a seed and juice. While the juice and the sarcotesta skin are edible, the seeds are many and not really edible.
Pomegranate is low on vitamin C
Another important point about pomegranates and citrus fruit is the vitamin C content. Citrus fruits aren’t the highest in vitamin C, but they are contain much more than a pomegranate.
For example pomegranates have 10.2 mg of vitamin C per 100 gr of fruit. The same amount of oranges has 53.2 mg, lemons have 52 mg, while kiwis have 92.7 mg !
Pomegranates have a sweet and tart flavor
If you’re wondering what the tart, sour note is in pomegranates, it’s not the vitamin C but the citric acid. Yes, some fruits do have a bit of citric acid even if they’re not a citrus. Citric acid is a naturally occurring, edible acid and it’s primarily found in citrus fruits, but also in strawberries, tomatoes, cranberries, cherries, and yes pomegranates.
That being said, citric acid was named after citrus, because that’s where it’s found the most. It’s not the only source. Citrus fruits are the highest source, with other fruits having a low production.
So what makes pomegranates sour ? They have a low pH level (4.4) which makes them acidic, but still not a citrus fruit.
What can you do with pomegranates ?
So we’ve established pomegranates are not citrus fruits. Even so, you can still use them in many ways. If you’re looking for ideas, check out the next section.
Pomegranates are easy to use and their seeds look like little red garnets. They make for a great presentation. Did you know, the English word ‘garnet‘ is an old word, derived from the Old French grenat, which was derived from the Latin granatum, which meant ‘of dark red color’.
This is actually the root of the name for pomegranate, and the crystal garnet is named after the pomegranate seeds which it resembles so much !
Add pomegranates to a salad
One way to take advantage of those stunning jewels is to sprinkle them in a fruit salad. They’d go great in combination with some really sweet fruits like pears, mangoes, pineapple, and maybe some kiwi ?
You can also use it in a savory salad. It’s a pop of color, since usually the only reds in a salad are tomatoes or peppers. They’ll provide a bit of sweetness too, so if you’re having something like a 4 cheese salad they will go great !
Juice pomegranates, with oranges
Another option is to juice a pomegranate with an orange, and get a very beautiful and delicious fruit juice. It might not be the sweetest juice but it’s definitely got a tropical vibe to it. And you get your citrus fix too !
You don’t have to stop at oranges, though. Feel free to use any other fruit you like. Just remember to strain the pomegranate seeds before you serve the juice.
Use pomegranates as natural red coloring
Since pomegranates are so darn red, they stain absolutely everything. We recommend using this to your advantage. If you’ve got an icing that you want a nice shade of pink, add some pomegranate juice.
If you want a deeper red, reduce the liquid by simmering it for a while. It’ll bring a sour note to whatever you’re making, so keep that in mind.
Read also: Is Kiwi A Citrus Fruit ?
Use pomegranates as a topping for desserts
You can also take advantage of these sparkly little jewels and get creative with desserts, ice cream, cookies, cakes, pastries, anything ! A few pomegranate seeds will look great sprinkled on top of anything, but imagine a crisp Pavlova !
Or the softest, moistest tres leches you’ve ever had, topped with a few blueberries and pomegranate seeds. You can use pomegranate seeds any way you like, even juice them with some blood orange and grapefruit !