Pomegranates ready to be juiced

I love this time of year. I look forward to eating pomegranate arils and making dark red juice to store for months to come. There are some good tricks for juicing without making a red splatter mess. One is to pick them after they have started to crack open. If left on the tree long after that it will start to dry out or worse so get it picked. Pulling apart the fruit under water in a big bowl or pot is a great method because all the great fleshy seeds sink to the bottom and all the parts we don't eat, like the peel and spongy pulp, float so that makes them easy to separate. Eat them like this or rub them into a colander so the juice goes into a bowl. Then the seeds can be squeezed in cheesecloth to get the last bit of juice off of them. I put the juice into jars to store in the frige or freezer for later. What a treat. It takes a lot of time but to me it is worth it. Poms are very easy to grow, have great flowers in the spring, awesome fruit, yellow fall leaf color and no pests around here and have low water needs. It is more of a shrub or bush than a tree and it can be kept small. Some people train it to be a tree by always cutting off the extra trunks and get less fruit that way.

Pomegranates are easy to grow

Here in Napa we have enough heat to really ripen pomegranates. The flavor is tangy and the color of the arils ranges from clear to very dark red. I prefer the darker color and a balance between sweetness and tartness. I like to use the trick of removing the arils in a bowl of water to speed things up and keep the juice from getting where is it not desired. Pomegranates are just becoming ripe and are well worth all the work to squeeze out the juice to use or store in the freezer in a canning jar to enjoy at another time of the year. The tree does not require a lot of water once it is established and there are no pests to the tree or fruit in this part of the world. The origin of the pom is the Middle East so plenty of heat and lots of sun is required to fully ripen the fruit but not much water. Plant soon to enjoy juicy fruit arils to add to salads, to eat out of hand or to make a dark red drink. I have tasted many varieties and our nursery carries the darkest colors with the best sweet/tart balance because these are the ones that win the taste tests.

Heirloom Apples

Here in Napa at our suburban farm we grow apple trees. We have new varieties, common varieties and heirloom varieties. One of the oldest is probably Ashmead's Kernal Apple from 1700. I'm sure it never won a beautiful fruit award but it is a high scorer in taste tests. Click to the apple page on the website to see our list including Gravenstein 1669, Waltana 1910, Golden Russet 1845, Bramley's Seedling1813, Belle de Boskoop 1856, Northern Spy 1800. It is no wonder that the heirlooms have been preserved when you taste them. Worth growing because they taste great.

Orange Trees

Gardeners who are spreading the fruit ripening over more of the year can have flowers on one tree and ripe fruit on another. These Trovita Oranges ripen in the spring and summer when the winter ripe varieties are in flowers. The fruit is great tasting and there are few seeds, thin skin and they are easy to grow. Even the peels can be used to flavor excellent beverages and foods especially if you avoid using pesticides that can collect in the skin oils. The trees can be grown as a shrub if winter covering is needed and that way the fruit is easy to reach. Oranges create year round beauty in your yard.