The Passionate Pomegranate Co
The Passionate Pomegranate Co are trying to do for the humble pomegranate what others have done for cheese and wine in South Africa
A passionate weekend...
Story by Deni Archer
The first weekend of Spring 2012 was a passionate one. Passionate about pomegranates, that is. The Food With A Story team was invited to spend the evening in Swellendam at the luxurious and eclectically decorated Augusta de Mist, where we were introduced to the Passionate Pomegranate Co - who are being innovative with this heritage fruit.
...with a heritage fuit!
Many of us will have memories of picking pomegranates from some garden tree, hacking it open and sucking the tart juice off the delicate ruby pearls. As an experience, this process is an engaging one - once in a while. But to use the fruit more frequently, and make the most of the rich flavour, is a little more taxing. And so the fruit was delegated to the list of the exotic and impractical.
More recently, the pomegranate has made a comeback of sorts, appearing mostly as a salad garnish - little garnets peppered here and there to add some colour. But what else can be done with this gorgeous fruit? That’s what the Passionate Pomegranate company have arrived to show us. They’re doing extraordinary things; from fruit juice to reductions and syrups, they’re making the sensuous flavours available to chefs and food lovers alike.
Bringing the pomegranate to life
Our day with the products began with an afternoon cheesecake drizzled with the sweet ruby syrup at the Old Gaol cafe in Swellendam. Here we met with the farmers, a trio of brothers and their wives who have set out together to bring pomegranates back into fashion. They’ve collaborated with chef and co-owner of Augusta de Mist, Henk Klijn, to bring the pomegranate to life - by way of a six course meal using the Passionate Pomegranate products throughout.
Starting with a beetroot soup, and moving through antipasti, tittar and rice, glazed duck, sorbets, and an award-winning malva pudding (created by Augusta de Mist co-owner Michel) every course celebrated the pomegranate with style. Working wth the products excites Henk, who says, “the flavours change with what you cook and you never know what to expect”. The next morning after breakfast, we were able to taste the cooking products individually - the Ruby Syrup (light sweet reduction), the Ruby Splash (a light reduction), and the Garnet Chef (a sticky reduction). We also tried the juice and preserves.
A healthful treat
Not only are these products rich in unique flavour, they’re also somewhat of a health product. Except for the syrup, the products don’t have any added sugar, and provide a healthy way to sweeten food. Pomegranates are known for their health benefits - it’s high in antioxidants; in fact, studies have shown pomegranate juice to have at least 20% more antioxidants than other juices including grape juice, acai, and blueberry juice. It also comes out tops for polyphenols, even beating red wine!
"The sky is the limit"
The Passionate Pomegranate Co are enthusiastic about their future. As Henk says, “We can do for the humble pomegranate what others have done for cheese and wine. The sky is the limit.”
The products are available at the Neighbourgoods Market and the Stellenbosch market, online through Gourmet Cravings, and at these outlets.
Over coffee and cheescake we learn about pomegranate farming from The Passionate Pomegranate Co
The fruits are grown and processed near Swellendam. The ariels of the fruit are lovingly removed by hand.
We were hosted for dinner and a stay in Augusta de Mist's heritage homestead, built in 1802.
Every detail is thought through creatively at Augusta de Mist, right down to the labels on their wine.
Fine wine was the lubricant for passionate conversations about food.
Pomegranate was the theme running through all of the decadent dishes cooked up by Henk. Here are some of the show stoppers: Beetroot & pomegranate soup; duck confit with pomegranate jus; tomato & pomegranate ice; malva pudding with pomegranate ice cream
And of course, let's not forget the real stars of the show - The Passionate Pomegranate Co products
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