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What color is a ripe pomegranate?

The pomegranate is a fruit that has been cultivated for thousands of years. It originated in modern day Iran and the Himalayas of northern India. Pomegranates grow on small trees or shrubs that can reach up to 20 feet tall. The fruit itself is about the size of an apple with a tough, leathery skin that can range in color from yellow to deep red. Inside the pomegranate are hundreds of edible seeds separated by bitter membranes. These seeds and the juice they contain make up the edible parts of the fruit.

So when it comes to determining ripeness and knowing when a pomegranate is ready to eat, the coloring of the skin is one of the best indicators. But what exactly constitutes a ripe pomegranate color? Let’s take a more in-depth look at how pomegranates ripen and the different colors you can expect as they reach maturity.

Stages of Ripening

Pomegranates go through several stages of development before they are fully ripe. Here are the basic changes in pomegranate color at each stage:

Green – Unripe pomegranates are green in color. At this point the seeds are not yet developed and the fruit is hard and incredibly sour or astringent tasting. Pomegranates should not be consumed when green.

Breaker – As the fruit approaches maturity, areas of yellow, red or brown start to appear on the skin while the majority remains green. At this “breaker” stage the seeds begin growing inside.

Blush – Over the next few weeks, the yellow and red coloring spreads further across the surface. The skin takes on a mottled, variegated appearance with still some sections of green.

Ripe – A ripe pomegranate will have most or all of the skin turned red, reddish-brown or orange-red with little to no green remaining. The fruit will feel heavy for its size. At this stage the seeds are fully developed with edible juicy arils and the flavor is sweet and tart instead of bitter.

Ripe Pomegranate Color Variations

Many people think a ripe pomegranate is deep red or even purple in color. While this is often the case, there is actually a lot of variation in the specific coloring. Here are some of the most common ripe pomegranate colors:

Deep Red – The most common fully ripe pomegranate color is an even, rich red. This signifies maturity in many cultivars.

Red-Orange – Some pomegranate varieties turn more of an orange-red shade when ripe instead of pure red. Red-orange pomegranates are not under ripe, they are just a different color variety.

Pinkish Red – Other ripe pomegranates may end up on the pink end of the spectrum with reddish-pink skin. Again, this does not indicate under ripeness as long as the fruit is mostly uniform in color.

Dark Purple – A small percentage of pomegranate cultivars turn a deep purple or burgundy color when fully ripe instead of red.

Blushed – With some pomegranate varieties, the skin remains somewhat variegated even when ripe. You may see blushing with patches of yellow, green or brown mixed with red.

Identifying Under Ripe Pomegranates

It can be tricky to distinguish between pomegranates that are truly under ripe versus simply a different ripe color variety. However, here are some signs that indicate a pomegranate is not yet fully mature:

– Predominantly green skin with only small patches of red blushing

– Pale pink or orange color instead of rich red tones

– Dry, brittle stems instead of green and flexible

– Light weight for size of the fruit

– Hardness when pressing the rind

– White seeds lacking juicy red arils when cut open

Basically if the exterior skin looks mostly green or pale and lacks deep coloring, chances are the interior seeds are under developed. The fruit should feel heavy and the arils should be red and juicy when gently squeezed.

What Impacts Ripe Pomegranate Color?

Many factors influence the final color that develops on a ripe pomegranate. Here are a few of the key factors:

Cultivar – Different pomegranate cultivars have been bred to produce certain colors. Some have deep red skin while others turn more pinkish red. There are even purple and variegated varieties.

Climate – Cooler nighttime temperatures during late summer and fall tend to intensify red pigments in pomegranates. Hot weather can cause more lighter orange shades to develop.

Sun Exposure – Pomegranates produce the highest levels of anthocyanins (red pigments) when grown under full sun. With too much shade, the skin may turn more yellow or orange.

Fruit Scratches – Small scratches, cracks, and injuries to the rind from insects, wind, or handling can induce red pigmentation in those injured areas.

Leaf Removal – Removing leaves to expose more fruit to sunlight is a technique sometimes used to hasten or enhance red color development.

Watering – Adequate moisture, especially during late summer heat waves, helps optimize the red coloring process. Too little water can stress the tree and alter ripening.

What About Pomegranate Seed Color?

The seed arils inside a ripe pomegranate can display some variation in color as well. Here are the most common internal aril colors:

– Bright red – This is the most common color of the juicy edible seed pods. It indicates maturity.

– Pink – Some pomegranate varieties have a lighter pinkish red aril color when ripe instead of scarlet red.

– White – Occasional off-white or yellow arils may be found in some fruits but are less desirable. This can indicate delayed ripening of those seeds.

– Green – Any greenish seeds are under ripe and not ready for eating. The arils should never be hard, green and crunchy.

– Brown – Overly soft, mushy brown arils are a sign of over maturity and possible spoilage.

Healthy, ripe pomegranate arils will have a plump, juicy texture and rich flavor. Bright red is the ideal internal color, but pinkish-red can also occur in certain pomegranate cultivars. The seeds provide beneficial antioxidants so the richer the color, the more nutrition they likely contain.

How to Ripen Pomegranates

If you have hard, tart pomegranates at home that are under ripe, here are some tricks you can try to ripen them fully:

– Leave them at room temperature – Pomegranates will gradually continue to ripen off the tree. Keep them on the counter out of sunlight for 1-2 weeks.

– Place in a paper bag – The natural ethylene gas released by the fruit can accelerate ripening when confined in a bag.

– Try a banana – Adding a banana to the paper bag takes advantage of the ethylene it emits.

– Move to a warmer area – Warm spots like near a radiator or on top of the fridge speeds up the ripening enzymes.

– Rinse in diluted alcohol – Soaking under ripe pomegranates for 1-2 minutes in a high proof alcohol diluted with water can enhance ripening. Vodka or rum work well.

– Scratch the rind – Using a knife to gently scratch the outer skin triggers increased pigment production in those areas.

– Wait for a freeze – A light frost or freeze ruptures the internal cells and quickens overall ripening.

Just keep in mind that fully green pomegranates may not ever ripen properly off the tree. For best results, allow pomegranates to partially ripen on the tree before picking.


A ripe pomegranate can display a wide range of beautiful exterior colors ranging from deep red, to pinkish-orange, to rich purple. The key is to look for a uniformly colored skin free of large green patches. Ripe pomegranate arils inside should be juicy and red in color. While fully green pomegranates are definitely under ripe, other lighter colors can simply indicate a certain variety. Letting the fruit fully ripen on the tree provides the richest flavor, nutrition and appearance. With some additional time after picking, hard pomegranates may continue to ripen and develop additional sweetness and color. Just be sure to enjoy your pomegranates soon after they reach their peak ripeness for the best taste and health benefits.


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