Food and Fruit

How to Tell if Pomegranate is Ripe?

As fall approaches, those beautiful ruby red pomegranates start popping up in grocery stores and farmer’s markets. But how can you tell if a pomegranate is ripe and ready to eat?

Selecting a perfectly ripe pomegranate takes a bit of skill. Unlike some other fruits that signal when they’re ripe, a pomegranate requires closer inspection. With their tough outer skin, you can’t rely on touch alone to determine ripeness.

This complete guide will walk you through everything you need to know about how to tell if pomegranate is ripe. You’ll learn what signs to look for, from the color of the skin down to what you should hear when you give a pomegranate a shake.

Arm yourself with this advice, and you’ll be ready to enjoy nature’s candy—the sweet juicy arils inside a fresh pomegranate.

How Do You Know if a Pomegranate is Ready to Eat?

Determining the ripeness of a pomegranate requires assessing a few different factors:


The skin color is one of the most reliable ways to judge ripeness. A ripe pomegranate will have a deep red color. Unripe pomegranates are pale pink or orange.

As a pomegranate ripens, it transforms from having white-pink hues to sporting a richer rosy red. The deepest red pomegranates are the ripest and juiciest.


Don’t worry if your pomegranate feels hard—that’s normal. Even when ripe, pomegranates retain a firm and solid texture.

Avoid pomegranates with soft spots, which indicate overripeness and internal damage. Ripe pomegranates feel heavy for their size and are free of blemishes, cracks, or bruising.


Gently shaking a pomegranate next to your ear can give you a sense of its ripeness. If you hear the internal seeds rattling around, that’s a good sign the pomegranate is ripe.

Unripe pomegranates won’t make much noise when shaken because the seeds and juice sacs are underdeveloped.


Take a look at the crown, which is the pointed end opposite the stem. On a ripe pomegranate, the crown will have a sunken, indented appearance.

If the crown still has a smooth, flat surface, that suggests the pomegranate was picked too soon and hasn’t finished ripening.


A ripe pomegranate feels noticeably heavy in your hand for its size. The weight comes from all the juicy seed sacs forming inside.

In contrast, an unripe pomegranate will feel unexpectedly light, since it lacks developed seeds and juice.

Should Pomegranates Be Soft or Hard?

Should Pomegranates Be Soft or Hard?

Ripe pomegranates retain their hardness and don’t soften. So don’t hesitate to buy a pomegranate with a firm and solid texture—that’s perfectly normal.

In fact, an overly soft pomegranate is past its prime and overripe. Avoid pomegranates with any squishy spots or bruises.

The seeds and juicy arils inside a ripe pomegranate are soft with a delicate crispness. But the outer skin and inner membranes remain sturdy and tough.

When preparing a pomegranate, you’ll need to cut through the firm rind, peel back the white pith, and then enjoy the delicious pops of sweet/tart seeds.

So don’t pass up hard pomegranates—just make sure they don’t have any bruises or feel hollow inside. Solid, heavy, and hard means it’s ripe under that tough exterior.

How Do You Pick a Ripe Pomegranate?

Now that you know what to look for, here’s a step-by-step guide to selecting the perfect ripe pomegranates at the store:

  1. Look for a deep ruby-red color. Ripe pomegranates will be a rich garnet-red shade. Avoid orange-pink hues.
  2. Inspect the crown. A sunken, indented crown means it’s ripe. Avoid smooth, flat crowns.
  3. Check for damages. Bruises, cracks, or leaking juice are signs of overripeness.
  4. Give it a shake. You should hear the arils rattling inside a ripe pomegranate.
  5. Test the firmness. Ripe pomegranates feel solid and heavy for their size.
  6. Compare weights. Heave a few pomegranates and select a heavier one of similar size.
  7. Consider the season. Late summer through winter is the peak season for ripe pomegranates.

Following these tips will ensure you walk away with ready-to-eat ripe pomegranates bursting with sweet juicy seeds.

What Color is a Ripe Pomegranate?

The most reliable indicator of ripeness is the color of the pomegranate’s skin.

Here’s a guide to pomegranate colors and what they signify:

  • Green: Extremely unripe. Pomegranates should never be harvested while still green.
  • Yellow-Green: An under-ripe pomegranate, avoid.
  • Pinkish Orange: Getting closer to ripe but needs more time on the tree or counter.
  • Pinkish Red: Almost ripe, give it a few more days.
  • Rich Ruby Red: Ripe, ready to eat! This deep red color indicates peak ripeness.
  • Purple: May be overripe, inspect for soft spots.
  • Brown: Past ripe, old, and likely damaged internally.

The most delicious ripe pomegranates will be a vivid ruby red hue. Stick to choosing pomegranates with rich, saturated color.

Pale pinks and oranges mean the pomegranate was picked too early. Deep purples and browns signal it’s past its prime.

Can You Eat an Unripe Pomegranate?

It’s best to avoid eating unripe pomegranates. While an unripe pomegranate won’t make you sick, it won’t offer that sweet juicy goodness you expect.

Here’s what happens if you try to eat a pomegranate before its time:

  • Minimal juice: Underripe pomegranates lack developed juice sacs and seeds. Cutting one open will release barely any juice.
  • Hard seeds: The edible arils will be shriveled and hard instead of plump, sweet, and crisp.
  • Tannic taste: Unripe pomegranates contain high levels of tannins, giving them an unpleasant bitter and astringent flavor.
  • Tough membranes: The inner white pith of unripe pomegranates is nearly inedible in its crunchy, paper-like texture.
  • Stomach upset: While not toxic, tannins and plant compounds in unripe pomegranates may cause digestive irritation in some people.

If your pomegranate is still partially green or orange, leave it on the counter for a few days until the skin fully reddens. Then cut it open and enjoy it at its flavorful best.

Do Pomegranates Ripen After Being Picked?

Do Pomegranates Ripen After Being Picked?

Yes, pomegranates can continue ripening after being harvested from the tree. But they ripen best when still attached to the plant.

Once detached, pomegranates go through a process called “after-ripening.” The fruit very slowly finishes ripening off the tree.

However, pomegranates don’t after ripen well. The changes are minimal compared to ripening on the living tree. Plus, the fruit becomes more susceptible to spoilage.

For the highest quality, ripe pomegranates should be:

  • Left on the tree until fully mature.
  • Harvested once deeply red colored.
  • Eaten soon, within a month.

Letting under-ripe store-bought pomegranates after-ripen works in a pinch. But tree-ripened is ideal for the juiciest flavor and texture.

Why Don’t My Pomegranates Turn Red?

Sometimes pomegranates fail to turn that beautiful vibrant red we expect. What causes a pomegranate to stay pink or orange?

Here are a few common reasons:

Early Harvesting

Pomegranates plucked from trees too early don’t have time to fully redden. Be patient and leave them on the tree longer.

Insufficient Summer Heat

Pomegranates need hot summer weather to develop rich red pigments. Cool rainy summers result in paler hues.

Overshadowed Fruit

Shaded pomegranates blocked from direct sunlight won’t redden well. Thin trees and prune branches for even sun exposure.

Low Night Temperatures

Nighttime temps below 40°F inhibit lycopene and anthocyanin pigments from forming in the skin. Protect trees from early frosts.

Overbearing Crop Load

Too many pomegranates competing on one tree limits resources and results in poor coloration. Thin overly dense branches.

Nutrient Deficiencies

A lack of nutrients like phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium creates less colorful fruit. Fertilize trees per soil test recommendations.

Diseased Trees

Some bacterial and fungal diseases disrupt ripening. Treat and maintain healthy trees.

How Long Does Pomegranate Take to Ripen?

Pomegranates need about 5-7 months on the tree to fully develop and ripen. The timing from flower to ripe fruit is:

  • Spring pollination – around March/April in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Fruit set – happens 1 month after pollination in April/May.
  • Ripening – occurs slowly over summer and early fall.
  • Harvest – September through October for most varieties. Some late cultivars are harvested November-December.

Pomegranates harvested before September are under-ripe and won’t have ideal flavor or juicy arils. Most varieties are ready to pick starting in September through December.

After picking, pomegranates may take 1-2 weeks longer to finish ripening off the tree. But eating them straight from the tree guarantees the best quality.

Why Do Pomegranates Split Before They Are Ripe?

How to tell if pomegranate is ripe

It’s always disappointing when a nearly ripe pomegranate splits open before you get the chance to eat it. Why does this happen?

Pomegranates are prone to cracking for a few reasons:

Erratic Irrigation – Fluctuating soil moisture causes the fruit skin to expand and contract, eventually splitting it open. Maintain even watering.

Heavy Late Rains – A big rainstorm right before harvest can cause ripe fruit to swell and burst. picking pomegranates just before rains helps avoid this.

Insect Damage – Bugs and larvae tunneling into the skin compromise the surface, leading to splits and cracks. Control pests all season.

Sunburn – Hot sun drying out exposed fruit leads to cracks. Protect pomegranates with light shade cloth.

Delayed Harvesting – Leaving pomegranates on trees past peak ripeness makes them prone to splitting. Pick as soon as deeply red.

Thin Rind – Some varieties genetically have thinner skin, making them more likely to crack open. Grow split-resistant cultivars.

Preventing splits requires maintaining optimal growing conditions and harvesting on time. But even perfectly grown pomegranates can split right before picking. Just one of the frustrations of cultivating this healthful fruit!


Choosing a ripe juicy pomegranate takes checking a few indicators – skin color, crown indent, rattling seeds, and heavy feel. Ripe pomegranates will be a deep ruby red with a sunken crown. Avoid unripe fruit with pink, orange, or green color.

Underripe pomegranates lack developed arils and juice, making them disappointing to eat. Allow pomegranates to fully ripen on the tree for the sweetest flavor and vibrant red color.

With this complete guide to ripeness, you can now shop for pomegranates with confidence. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying a bowl full of tasty, antioxidant-rich arils and reaping all the health benefits this amazing fruit has to offer.


1. How can you tell if a pomegranate is ripe without cutting it open?

Look for deeply red colored skin, a sunken crown, and a heavy feeling weight – without needing to cut it open. A ripe pomegranate will also make a rattling sound when shaken.

2. Do pomegranates ripen off the tree?

Pomegranates can slowly finish ripening off the tree but it’s minimal. For best quality and flavor, pomegranates should be tree-ripened.

3. What happens if a pomegranate is left on the tree too long?

Over time on the tree, pomegranates eventually split open, rot, or ferment. Storing sugars start converting to alcohol in excessively ripe fruit.

4. How long do ripe pomegranates last?

Ripe pomegranates keep for 1-2 months in cool storage. Refrigerate prepared arils in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Freeze arils for longer storage.

5. Can you ripen a pomegranate faster?

No, there’s no good way to speed up the ripening process. Warm temperatures and ethylene gas won’t help much. Time on the tree is required.

Aaliyah Dana

She enjoys writing about the lifestyle and all things related to the world. She is also an avid gamer who enjoys playing games on his PS4. Aaliyah has been writing for over 5 years and has had articles published on such sites as Forbes, The Huffington Post, Mashable, and more.

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