A native of Iran, pomegranate is a shrub with globular red berries that contain hundreds of tart, edible seeds.
Learn the backstory
A decade after the food press declared that pomegranate had “hit the peak of popularity,” pomegranate is again appearing on lists of trendy flavors. Late last year, Whole Foods Market predicted that pomegranate molasses and its offshoots would rule restaurant menus and grocery store shelves in 2017.
In 2007, just after the U.S. eating public had welcomed 450 new pomegranate-based products to the marketplace, The Splendid Table’s Lynn Rossetto Kasper attributed the proliferation of pomegranate jelly beans and muffin tops to Paula Wolfert. The pioneering cookbook author, who’s the subject of a new biography chronicling her early forays into southern Mediterranean cuisine and recent battle with dementia, was an influential champion of pomegranate molasses.
Then, Kasper told Minnesota Public Radio, “The magazines start(ed) writing about it. The chefs in fancy restaurants start(ed) playing with it.”
Although Kasper believed Wolfert was ultimately responsible for bringing cachet to an ancient ingredient, she didn’t entirely dismiss the fruit’s beauty or antioxidant count as causes of its contemporary appeal. Pomegranate is classified as a super fruit, meaning it’s packed with nutrients deemed beneficial.
Another reason for the revival of pomegranate interest may well involve sheer supply: California farmers caught up in pomegranate excitement converted some of their fields to pomegranate groves, so the U.S. in 2012 had nearly twice as many pomegranate farms as it did in 2007. According to the latest federal Census of Agriculture, 32,887 acres nationwide are planted with pomegranates.
And order it here
Fleet Landing, 186 Concord St., 843-722-8100, fleetlanding.net (Pomegranate mojito, $8)
— Hanna Raskin