One of the best things about Palermo in fall and early winter? Fruit juice. FRESH fruit juice! Pomegranate juice is one of our favorites.
Sicily’s climate is perfect for growing luscious rich-tasting fruit. The warm days and cool nights allow pomegranate shrubs to grow much larger than the ones you might find in California, or other places in the world. Pomegranates, native to Asia, spread through the centuries to the Middle East and then the Mediterranean. Pomegranate is called melograno in Italian. I Melograni have always been known as a symbol of fertility and bounty. Inside every pomegranate there are hundreds of edible seeds called arils. Pomegranates are rich in fiber, vitamin c, potassium, and even protein. They help reduce the risk of illness. Some even say they are an aphrodisiac!
When that winter chill comes along in Sicily pomegranates, with their high anti-inflammatory effect, are just what you need to feel good. When you press the whole fruit, pomegranate juice contains more antioxidants than any other fruit juice. All of the good stuff actually comes from the oils in the peel and the pith, so don’t forget to press the whole fruit!
In order to reap the best benefits of the pomegranate fruit, make sure to pick them when they are already ripe. This is not a fruit that will continue to ripen after it comes off of the tree. To extract the most juice, roll them on the countertop like you would do with citrus fruit.
Another easy way to pick the seeds out is to score the fruit into quarters from top to tail, then pop out each section and remove seeds from the pithy membranes. Many people also use this technique. Cut the pomegranates in half, place over a bowl, and swiftly hit the back with a wooden spoon.
Where to find Fresh Pomegranate Juice in Palermo?
During fall and early winter in Palermo, you can find pomegranates in the outdoor markets.
Many shops will sell freshly-pressed pomegranate juice for around €3 per cup.
Across from Piazza San Domenico there is a small bar that always sells freshly squeezed orange juice and when you’re lucky, you can find pomegranate juice here too.
In the Ballarò and Capo markets, there are stands that sell the juice daily. Enjoy a cup as often as you like and keep that winter cold away.
Written for Palermo Street Food: DECEMBER 21, 2018