Heavenly Fruit Harvest in Iran

Pomegranates have been central to Iranian life, cuisine and poetry for centuries.
November 10, 2010
The pomegranate features heavily in the poetry of Iran as well as its cuisine. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)
The pomegranate features heavily in the poetry of Iran as well as its cuisine. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)
The trees are generally low enough to allow picking by hand. (Photo: Erfan Daadkhah, Fars News Agency)
The trees are generally low enough to allow picking by hand. (Photo: Erfan Daadkhah, Fars News Agency)
The pomegranate's thick skin means it can be packed loosely into crates and taken off to market. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)
The pomegranate's thick skin means it can be packed loosely into crates and taken off to market. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)
The fruit are cheapest when bought direct from growers roadside stalls. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)
The fruit are cheapest when bought direct from growers roadside stalls. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)
A villager removes the seeds from pomegranates to prepare the paste. (Photo: Erfan Daadkhah, Fars News Agency)
A villager removes the seeds from pomegranates to prepare the paste. (Photo: Erfan Daadkhah, Fars News Agency)
Seeds ready to be crushed into paste. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)
Seeds ready to be crushed into paste. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)
Boiling the paste takes several hours. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)
Boiling the paste takes several hours. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)
After drying, pomegranate seeds are used in sauces. (Photo: Sohrab Sardashti, Fars News Agency)
After drying, pomegranate seeds are used in sauces. (Photo: Sohrab Sardashti, Fars News Agency)
Every year, fairs are held around Iran to promote pomegranate products. (Photo: Mansooreh Motamedi, Fars News Agency)
Every year, fairs are held around Iran to promote pomegranate products. (Photo: Mansooreh Motamedi, Fars News Agency)
The fairs show the range of cuisine made with pomegranate. (Photo: Mansooreh Motamedi, Fars News Agency)
The fairs show the range of cuisine made with pomegranate. (Photo: Mansooreh Motamedi, Fars News Agency)
Comic poetry in honour of the pomegranate at a festival in the Tabiat Cultural Centre in Tehran. (Photo: Mansooreh Motamedi, Fars News Agency)
Comic poetry in honour of the pomegranate at a festival in the Tabiat Cultural Centre in Tehran. (Photo: Mansooreh Motamedi, Fars News Agency)
Opening ceremony of the pomegranate festival at the Tabiat Cultural Centre. (Photo: Mansooreh Motamedi, Fars News Agency)
Opening ceremony of the pomegranate festival at the Tabiat Cultural Centre. (Photo: Mansooreh Motamedi, Fars News Agency)
Pomegranate paste is an important ingredient in Iranian cuisine. (Photo: Sohrab Sardashti, Fars News Agency)
Pomegranate paste is an important ingredient in Iranian cuisine. (Photo: Sohrab Sardashti, Fars News Agency)
In some Iranian folklore, pomegranates are described as the heavenly fruit or the love fruit. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)
In some Iranian folklore, pomegranates are described as the heavenly fruit or the love fruit. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad, Fars News Agency)

These images show the autumn harvest of pomegranates, a fruit that has played an important role in Iranian life for thousands of years.

Although the fruit grows across the more temperate northern half of Iran, the city of Saveh in Markazi province is considered the real centre of production. Agriculture officials say Iran accounts for about 50 per cent of global production.

The pomegranate’s health benefits have become well-known in recent years, but Iranians have always described it as “mive-ye beheshti”, the “heavenly fruit”.

As an American TV ad for pomegranate juice put it, the warriors of Persian mythology ate pomegranates before going into battle in the belief this would make them invincible.

Before tomatoes were brought back from the New World, pomegranates played a similar role in savoury as well as sweet foods.

Apart from juice, pomegranates are used in a multiplicity of ways. The thick paste is a key ingredient of “fesenjan” stew, a culinary mainstay, the pulp is spread into thin layers and dried for the “lavashak” snack, and there is pomegranate ice cream.

The red colouring and unique taste have given the pomegranate almost mythic status in Iran.

As Sohrab Sepehri, one of the many poets who has used the fruit’s imagery, wrote, “I break a pomegranate and say to myself, I wish the people revealed the seeds of their hearts as it does. The pomegranate juice springs into my eye, I shed tears.”

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options