Pomegranate, a shrub-grown fruit mostly consumed through its seeds, presents a sweet and juicy snack to most areas of the globe. Contrary to what many people believe, pomegranate is in fact taxonomically considered a berry and not a melon1.
Owing to the large number of individual seeds present within a single pomegranate, it is often necessary to store them either in the fridge or the freezer.
Yes, pomegranate seeds can be frozen with no change in taste, though their normally firm texture may grow softer. In order to most optimally freeze pomegranate seeds, ensure that your freezer thermometer is set to 32°F or lower2.
Can Pomegranate Seeds be Stored at Room Temperature?
In the case that you cannot or are not willing to store your pomegranate in the freezer, it is possible for the fruit to last for a short amount of time on your counter-top, depending whether the fruit has been cut yet.
When still whole, the pomegranate berry can be kept for up to seven days in a room-temperature environment free of insects or excess moisture.
On the other hand, if the seeds have been removed from the fruit, they will only last up to twenty hours out in the open before developing bacterial cultures3. It is advisable to instead store the seeds in the refrigerator, if possible.
Can Pomegranate Seeds be Refrigerated Instead?
Yes, pomegranate seeds keep for far longer when refrigerated than if they were left exposed to the elements3.
In order to refrigerate your pomegranate seeds, first deseed the pomegranate fruit thoroughly, removing any bits of clinging white mesocarp attached to the seeds. Place the seeds within an air-tight container and refrigerate.
In the ideal conditions, pomegranate seeds may last up to five days in the refrigerator, providing that they have not been removed from the cold for an extended period of time.
Unlike freezing, refrigerating does not lower the temperature enough to induce the formation of ice crystals. This means that the texture of pomegranate seeds should remain relatively consistent from the moment they were stored.
What is Needed to Freeze Pomegranate Seeds?
While somewhat labor intensive, freezing pomegranate seeds will only require a baking tray lined with foil or wax paper, a paring knife, tissue paper and a resealable plastic pouch.
Freezing Pomegranate Seeds
To first begin freezing your pomegranate seeds, wash the whole pomegranate thoroughly.
Core the fruit and slice into fifths, taking care not to cut too violently as this may rupture too many seeds. Once cut, carefully remove the seeds from the albedo or white mesocarp portion, placing them on the baking tray. Ensure that no mesocarp is left clinging to the seeds, as this may interfere with the freezing process.
Place several squares of tissue paper atop the seeds, pressing down as gently as possible so as to absorb as much water on the surface of the seeds as possible. If the tissue becomes soaked through, simply replace it. Allow the tissue to absorb water from on top of the seeds for several minutes.
Spread the now dry seeds evenly across the baking sheet and place uncovered in the freezer for two hours. This will prevent the seeds from freezing into a single mass should they rupture or have any excess moisture between them.
After two hours, remove the seeds from the freezer and place gently into a freezer-safe bag, taking care not to rupture any of the seeds. Squeeze as much air out of the plastic bag as possible, and store once more in the freezer.
Following this method, your pomegranate seeds can remain edible for as long as six months.
Thawing Pomegranate Seeds
In order to thaw your pomegranate seeds while minimizing the loss of texture associated with freezing, it is best to remove the amount of pomegranate seeds needed from the freezer and to place it in an air-tight plastic container.
Leave the plastic container containing the seeds in the fridge overnight or until the seeds are no longer icy.
Alternatively, the seeds can be placed in a second plastic pouch and run under room temperature water for twenty minutes, though the rapid thawing of ice may impact the seeds’ texture somewhat.
How to Know if Pomegranate Seeds have Gone Bad
Though unlikely, if the seeds have spoiled within the freezer or fridge, there are several signs.
The first and most obvious of which is a sour or even alcoholic odor. When colonized by certain cultures of bacteria, the sugar and water within pomegranate seeds can ferment into various chemical forms of alcohol, some of which are dangerous to ingest. Dispose of the seeds immediately should you notice this smell.
Apart from unusual smells, the seeds may have grown dry and slop-like. While this is not exactly a clear sign of spoilage, it does point to the seeds being improperly stored, and as such may be compromised by bacteria or fungi.
Keep in mind that by freezing your seeds, a small amount of firmness is lost in its texture. This is entirely normal, and does not indicate that they have gone bad.
Can Whole Pomegranates be Frozen?
While inadvisable, it is entirely possible to freeze the entirety of a pomegranate fruit.
To do so, simply wash the fruit thoroughly, taking care to remove any dirt or unusual spots from the surface of the fruit. Pat dry with a towel or tissue, and then seal within an air-tight plastic bag, pushing out any excess air from within.
Note that this is not often done because of the inconvenience of cutting a frozen fruit, which may even prove dangerous if sufficient time is not taken to fully thaw the pomegranate.
Instead, it is best to cut and deseed the pomegranate prior to freezing, as this will save time and effort.
Whole frozen pomegranates can last up to an entire year, so long as the ideal candidate fruit has been chosen.
1. Morton, J. F. (1987). “Pomegranate, Punica granatum L”. Fruits of Warm Climates. Purdue University
2. Unknown Author (Unknown Publication Date) “What bacteria need to grow and multiply” Cornell University http://seafoodhaccp.cornell.edu/blackboard/module2/list3.html
3. Crites. Alice M., Linnis Mills, Gayland D. Robison. (May 2020) “Pomegranate – A Versatile Fruit” College of Agriculture University of Nevada-Reno Nevada Cooperative Extension