Said to be Aphrodite’s gift the the earth, the pomegranate symbolizes life, fertility, birth and superstitions say that good luck will come to those who consume it! This is likely due to the amazing health benefits that come with this tart superfood. However, unlike other berries, it comes at quite a cost. Why is pomegranate juice so expensive? We have the juicy details!
Unlike other fruits, extracting the juice from a pomegranate is a labor intensive process because the juice is encased within the seeds. Moreover, those seeds only make up only a little more than half of the fruit, leaving the rest to be discarded.
This means that it takes a lot of pomegranates to make a bottle of juice, whereas other fruits tend to yield a larger amount of edible product. Additionally, the growing conditions for this delicious treat can be detrimentally impacted by the weather and it takes almost a third of the shrub’s life to actually start producing fruit.
The Real Forbidden Fruit
The word pomegranate is derived from the Latin term “pomum granatum”, which translates to apple of many grains or seeds. This ancient berry is said to have grown in the Garden of Eden. While experts rave about the myriad of health benefits, it can also be a detriment to some individuals.
Heath Benefits Of Pomegranate
Pomegranates are brimming with antioxidants and have amazing anti-inflammatory properties.They are also said to have cancer fighting properties as well.
Moreover, this superfood can improve your heart health, lower your blood pressure and it can help those suffering from arthritis. It is also an excellent source of potassium, folate and both Vitamin C and K!
Registered Dietician Dena Norton further notes that pomegranates are better than other more traditional sources of these essential nutrients. “[They] have more Vitamin C than blueberries or cherries [and] have more ellagic acid (antioxidant) than red wine”.
As we all know, nutrient rich foods with exemplary health benefits tend to be more expensive and pomegranate juice is no exception. Pomegranate juice runs anywhere between 20 to 30 cents per ounce, which is quite expensive. In comparison, apple and orange juices only cost around 7 cents per ounce.
Problems With Pomegranate
While most people will thrive off of just two ounces of this sweet and tangy juice each day, those who suffer from hypotension and those who are on certain medications should avoid this tasty beverage.
Why? First, for those who already have a low blood pressure, regularly drinking this juice can run the risk of causing dizziness, fainting or even death (in rare cases).
Moreover, individuals who are taking blood pressure medications, ACE inhibitors, statins and Warfarin all run the risk of having drug interactions with this fruit juice.
According to doctors at Mount Sinai, “Preliminary research suggests that pomegranate juice may interact with several medications (much like grapefruit juice does). For that reason, be sure to tell your doctor if you drink pomegranate juice.”
Pomegranates are a fruit that require warm and dry climates. This is one of the reasons why they seem to thrive, despite drought conditions. Conversely, when exposed to too much water, pomegranates are susceptible to gray mold.
Moreover, this shrub can take anywhere between two to five years to start producing fruit. This can equate to up to a third of the plant’s lifespan. Additionally, once fruit begins to grow, it take five to seven months for the fruit to mature.
These qualities can make for a low yield of this crop, depending on the year. This makes the price of pomegranate and pomegranate juice more expensive.
Interestingly enough, this trendy fruit was not always available year round in the United States. Prior to 2008, the supply of this expensive fruit was “augmented by imports from Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, Greece and Mexico”.
Thankfully, due to the growing popularity, it is now readily available in stores year round. This is due to the now local production of the crop in California and Arizona.
However, for those who want to take advantage of the harvest season, buying pomegranates and pomegranate juice in October through January will bring a much less expensive price tag.
Labor Intensive Juice
Unlike lemonade or orange juice, pomegranate juice takes patience and time to make. This is due to the fact that even though the average pomegranate weighs about 9 ounces, only 5.5 of those ounces are the seeds.
In case you did not know, the juice of a pomegranate is located within the seeds or arils. This is why you can safely eat them whole, unlike the seeds of other fruits.
Making Pomegranate Juice
One pomegranate contains anywhere between 200 to 1400 seeds. This yields up to half a cup of juice. Thus, it takes between to six to eight large pomegranates to make a 32 ounce jar of this tangy liquid.
Next, place a mesh strainer over a bowl, pour in your semi-blended mixture and collect the liquid. Remember that in order to get the most out of each fruit, one must press the pulp to extract the optimal amount of juice.
Repeat the process until you get the desired number of ounces. For reference, one pomegranate will yield about four ounces of juice.
Making pomegranate juice is a time consuming venture, but doing it at home can get you the same product at a fraction of the cost. This is especially true for those who tend to skip the deseeding process and just purchase the arils already extracted.
Doing some quick math — let’s say you get your pomegranates in season for $1 a piece. In order to make 32 ounces of juice, you will spend around $8.
In comparison, Pom Wonderful, which makes up 80% of the pomegranate juice market, will cost a little over $12 for the same amount. Surprisingly enough though, this is not the most expensive option for pomegranate juice.
If you bought the arils separately, you will spend about $14 to make the same amount of product! Thus, in order to save the most amount of money, you need to make it from the source.
However, depending on your budget, for those with kids or hectic work schedules, saving a few bucks may not be worth the time it takes to make the juice.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When not purchased in season, pomegranates increase in price to $3 a piece. This would turn your $8 in juice to a $24 price tag, making it the costliest option. Therefore, it is imperative that you consider the time of year before assuming that DIY will save you money.
Saving On This Special Fruit
For those who love the taste and added health benefits of this delicious morning beverage, it is important to not just buy it in season, but to buy it in bulk as well.
Moreover, if you buy it in large quantities, pomegranate can actually last quite a long time in the fridge — having up to two months of shelf life when stored properly.
However, the seeds will not last nearly as long and neither will the juice. Once opened, the seeds will only be good for five days once extracted from the fruit.
The juice lasts just slightly longer between seven to ten days. For those who want to drastically extend the longevity of their fruit, seeds or juice, freezing is the best option.
For whole pomegranates, store them in a freezer safe bag and let out as much air as possible. They will last for up to a year in this colder environment (0 degrees Fahrenheit or less).
For pomegranate seeds, this is a two step process. Once the seeds are removed from the fruit, dry them off and lay them evenly on a cookie sheet that is lined with wax paper.
Place it in the freezer for two hours. This will help to freeze each individual seed. Second, take your frozen seeds and transplant them into a freezer safe container. We recommend using a vacuum sealer to ensure that no bacteria growth will occur.
However, a freezer bag or freezer safe container will also work effectively. The shelf life for the seeds will extend to three months in this state.
There are two options for storage. If you purchased bottles of pomegranate juice at the store, just slide them into the freezer. Stores like Costco sell large amounts of Pure Pom for a lower price (around 22 cents an ounce).
This makes for a worthwhile investment and saves you the expensive price tag of pomegranate juice at the grocery store. You can also transfer your homemade juice into plastic bottles and achieve the same effect.
However, it is important to remember that liquids expand in a frozen state. Thus, leave at least half an inch or more to accommodate this change. The alternate storage method is to take your freshly squeezed juice and pour it into ice cube trays.
Allow the individual sections to freeze and then transfer them into a freezer safe bag. Just like the whole fruits, this method will allow your juice to last up to a year.
Pomegranate juice is expensive, but there are ways to save on this extremely healthy beverage. Pom Wonderful is a fantastic brand that is 100% juice — that means no added sugars or additives.
Keep in mind, this is one of the reasons why it only lasts short periods once the bottle is opened. Thankfully, freezing is a spectacular way to get the most out of your purchases!
Heidi is a wife, mother, Newfie owner, writer and Meteorologist. She was born and raised in Texas and has worked in the broadcast industry for over a decade.