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  • Writer's picturekaydee777

A fruit full desert

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

The last bowl of beautiful pomegranates has been brought in off the three young shrubs in the southern front garden area, where they were planted around 2019 as the first fruit trees I introduced to this little piece of desert earth.

I knew it would take a few years before they began to offer fruit. Last year was the first time I harvested a small amount of pomegrates.

This year, heat and monsoon failure of the extreme summer season notwithstanding, there have been enough pomegranates to supply my daily fresh fruit needs for several months, as well as allowing for dehydration of a couple of batches of arils.

Trail mixes and salads will be pomegranate enhanced for the next few months. Some of the dehydrated arils are also going to be ground to make pomegranate spice - a very special and rare ingredient, especially found in Middle Eastern cookery.

Preparing the arils for dehydration is a long, slow process of separating tanin rich shell and pith from the sweet jewels packed so economically inside each fruit. The arils are very bouncy when liberated from their tightly packed storage system. They managed to scatter themselves all over the kitchen floor, bringing the ubiquitous desert ants out.

My arthritic fingers got a good workout in the activity, and remained stained a deep yellow for days, evidence as to why pomegranate skins make such a good natural dye. I'm freezing a bag of skins, undecided as to whether I will use them myself, or offer to a local artist who dyes her own yarn for exquisite weaving. I did try one dye bath on a repurposed thrift store sourced sheet I use for a market tablecloth. Turns out that the sheet is poly cotton so, though the bright white did go a dull yellow brown, the colour isn't as intense as it would have been had it had been a natural fiber. Oh well.

I did consider offering some of my pomegranate harvest at farmers market but decided to dehydrate instead. My small harvest can't compete with a vendor with an orchard in a nearby canyon who bought a (this being America) monster truckload and flooded the market even though they were selling their beautiful, big, flawless pomegranates for around $4 a piece. I was planning to offer my smaller, more homely fruits, lovingly nurtured in an environmentally supportive way, for $1 each.

Maybe in later years, when my trees are more mature, and my harvest is bigger, I will find the courage to take on the commercial giants, but for this year I am hoarding my desert jewels all to myself.

One of the major reasons I wanted to grow pomegranates, aside from their being perfectly suited to this desert region, (hence the local commercial orchards) was because of the incredibly high price one pays for individual pomegranates in stores in this country. I would say mission accomplished on that goal.

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