This is the time of year when the days grow shorter and darker. It’s also the time that my son Niko and I love because it is the season of pomegranates and persimmons. On Saturday November 8th, we had the pleasure of partaking in our pomegranate pleasure at the annual Wolfskill Experimental Orchard’s fall pomegranate and persimmon tasting day –which my son has dubbed the “Pomegranate Festival.” [photo essay]
This year, in addition to going to the actual festival, I volunteered the day before at the USDA National Clonal Germplasm Repository where more than 200 varieties of wild and cultivated pomegranates (largely from Western and Central Asia) are grown, studied, and preserved. I and around ten other volunteers (master gardeners, rare fruit growers, pomegranate officianados) spent a good eight hours extracting seeds from hundreds of pomegranates. In English, there is no good phrase for “making seeds” (doon kardan) and we deliberated on the phrases “extracting arils” (which sounds too clinical to me) and “shucking pomegranates” (which sounds way too violent).
The following day we had the pleasure of laying out bowls of 22 varieties of pomegranates (from hard seed, sour, to soft seed and sweet) along with 8 different varieties of persimmons. My personal favorites are “Sour,” “Arriana” and “al-sirin-anar” (yes, that’s likely a phonetic misspelling from the original Central Asian language. After the tasting, we were allowed to go into one of their pomegranate orchards and collect pomegranates.
I came home with around 100 lbs and you can see all the different varieties. My son and I have continued to devour several a day. On Wednesday, I juiced around 100 pomegranates and made fesenjoon. Tonight when I got home from work, my son and husband had made cake with pomegranate seeds thrown in the batter which were then decorated with fresh pomegranates. The artwork you see in the photo essay is that of my 7-year old son, Niko.
As you can tell, I love pomegranates. I love everything about them: their taste, their color, their shape, their variety, their husks, their juice, their mess, the pleasure of childhood memories and memories of eating them with my Baba. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed my week-long pomegranate fest.