Skip to Content

How to Pick a Pomegranate: 6 Things You Should Know

Pomegranates are an amazing fruit that still has a significant amount of mystery. Learning how to pick a pomegranate that can suit your needs can be a “game-changer” when it comes to maximizing this healthy food’s potential.

Ripe pomegranates hanging on tree with other pomegranate trees in background. Knowing how to pick a pomegranate guarantees that you'll get the most from enjoying this delicious and versatile fruit.

Pomegranates grow as shrubs or smaller trees, yielding a harder-skinned, pinkish fruit filled with bright red-purple juicy seeds. With seeds full of antioxidants, many people choose to buy this vibrant fruit from the store rather than wait 2-3 years for a tree to grow mature fruit, so it’s important to know how to pick the right pomegranate in any situation. 

Explore the knowledge you need to know about how to pick a pomegranate with these 6 tips.

How to Pick a Pomegranate to Eat Fresh or For Juice

When considering how to pick a pomegranate, the first thing most people want to know is how to tell if a pomegranate is ripe. In grocery stores or markets, there may not be much difference in shape between a ripe and unripe pomegranate.

Know that the riper fruit will tend to be less rounded and have a more hexagonal shape. A ripe pomegranate will be heavy, which indicates a healthy serving of that tart and delicious juice, whether you like to eat the seeds as-is or juice the fruit for a thirst-quenching glass.

Fresh pomegranates can be eaten with little preparation or kept in a refrigerated environment at 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for lengthy storage.

How to Pick a Pomegranate For Baking

Closeup of Pomegranate Braised Short Ribs.
Pomegranate Braised Short Ribs shows pomegranates aren’t just for salads and smoothies!

Picking the perfect pomegranate for hot dishes and baking may be a little bit different process than choosing a pomegranate for eating the fruit fresh. Whether you prefer a juicier pomegranate or are looking for seeds as a garnish can make a difference.

If you are selecting a pomegranate for sauce or adding color to baked goods, choose one full of juice with that heavy weight and a smooth skin finish.

If selecting a pomegranate for a garnish such as atop a curry or roast, you’ll want seeds that stay intact until eaten, so lean towards a slightly less ripe fruit for firmer seeds.

How to Pick a Pomegranate Based On the Fruit Variety

Closeup of a bowl of pomegranate arils.  Knowing how you'll use your pomegranates will help you decide how to pick a pomegranate.

Yes, there are different types of pomegranate. Choose the type of pomegranate based on how you’ll eat it.

  • Angel Red describes many pomegranates you’ll see in the store but Ariana is a similar variety with softer seeds.
  • The Golden Globe is a yellow pomegranate with almost grapefruit-colored seeds and excellent for juicing.
  • Sharp Velvet yields rich red color with high-antioxidant seeds rich in vitamin C.
  • Parfianka is a smaller tree variety with tiny seeds excellent for salads or snacking.
  • Kara Gul is the darkest pomegranate seed and also one of the heartiest trees, providing a sweet-tart flavor in a variety of climate conditions.
  • Pink Satin and Sweet pomegranates are a paler pink variety. Both types are sweeter and excellent for dessert.
  • Desertnyi is a famous Turkmenistan variety that provides hints of citrus.
  • Ambrosia pomegranates are a popular heavy-bearing fruit shrub. 

How to Pick a Pomegranate From a Tree

Closeup of hand cupping a pomegranate on a tree.

Determining how to pick a pomegranate from a tree is different than selecting a pomegranate in-store. For all but the palest varieties, when choosing fruit from a tree, the color will matter, so look for that deep, ruby red.

Again, select a fruit that is of an oblong shape — not round. Examine the pomegranate skin and it should be smooth. Use shears to cut the stem above the fruit instead of pulling the fruit off to avoid tree damage. Unlike other fruits, a ripe pomegranate will not necessarily detach without effort.

Pomegranate roots and stems are not considered safe to eat, so make sure to discard these parts before preparing.

How to Pick a Pomegranate in Season

Pomegranates are a seasonal fruit. The Wonderful variety of pomegranates makes up 80 percent of United States sales and are ripe from October through January. The vast majority of these fruits nationally are also grown in California.

If searching for the freshest pomegranate, consider both time and distance from the fields when making your purchase. If you have access to different, less commercial varieties of pomegranate, you may get lucky and find some ripe as early as late summer, such as the Angel Red.

One excellent method for how to pick a pomegranate that is ripe and fresh is to support your local farmers’ markets.

How to Pick a Pomegranate From a Grocery Store

Closeup of picked pomegranates.

In grocery store pomegranates, size doesn’t matter. Instead, look at the texture of the skin. Smooth equals ripe in this case, while color may vary. This difference is primarily due to how the supply chain works for this sought-after and hearty fruit.

In order to reach consumers for the fall and winter pomegranate season, most commercial fruits are actually picked in August. In Florida, these harvests actually take place from July through October before shipping to locations across the U.S.

Pomegranates do not continue to ripen after picking, so they boast a lengthy shelf-life if stored correctly. While the fruits will not become overripe as they travel, stored fruit can be subject to water loss and physical damage. 

Potentially due to their natural anti-microbial properties, pomegranates are very rarely part of recalls due to foodborne illness, but make sure to wash any produce before consuming it.

In Conclusion

Closeup of cut pomegranate and lots of red, juicy arils.

Knowing how to pick a pomegranate doesn’t have to be rocket science: simply look for the signs of ripeness shared in this article. Select the right pomegranate for your needs, whether traditional or adding a new variety to your menu, and select the right juice and seeds to meet your recipe.

Learn how to pick a pomegranate and know that you can store the correct fruit for as long as you need to assist in meal planning for the week or the holiday season. If possible, try to shop local to get the best characteristics from these attractive, tasty, and aromatic treats. Avoid fruit that has been exposed to excessive temperature or handling, crack open and enjoy.

Excited to learn more about this magical fruit? Then check out our pomegranate trees page for information on pomegranate planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, and more!