It is native to areas of the Middle East and India, up into some of the southern countries of the former Soviet Union.
The pomegranate is in season in North America during the months of September through February. To get to the seeds inside, you first need to score the outside of the fruit with a knife. The red seeds are then removed from the white membrane. A couple of easy ways to do this would be to put the fruit in a bowl of water and let the seeds sink to the bottom whereas the pulp will be light enough to rise. You can also try freezing the fruit, making the seeds easier to remove from the membrane.
You typically don't need to worry in the store if the pomegranate is ripe or not. They are picked ripe; however, in selecting a good pomegranate, select one that feels heavy for its size.
If you are going to try making your own juice, the pomegranate can be cut in half (much like a grapefruit), and use a hand press juicer. If you are going to use an electric juicer, make sure that you only juice the seeds and not the membrane.
One thing to keep in mind regarding pomegranates--whether you try juicing them or eating them plain, or using them in recipes, is pomegranate juice will stain--and it's very difficult to get rid of pomegranate juice stains.
Why would you want to eat a pomegranate? For one, they are high in fiber. One half cup of pomegranate seeds contains 20% of your fiber. Pomegranates also contain high levels of tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid--three different types of antioxidants. These are present in many fruits, but pomegranate juice contains particularly high amounts of all three. These are credited with helping with the prevention of heart disease and certain cancers. Other benefits may include reducing systolic blood pressure, may inhibit viral infections, and may have some effects against dental plaque.
Okay, so you now want to try the pomegranate, but you're less than thrilled about eating the fruit plain, and you don't want to juice it. Here's a simple recipe that we've been enjoying for the past few years: