How to Tell if a Pomegranate is Ripe ~ 6 Ways to Know

Whether you want to buy pomegranates from the grocery store or pick them from a tree, I explain how to tell if a pomegranate is ripe. I also discuss when to buy them so they will be at their best.

When in season, I buy boxes of pomegranates from Costco. They usually come in boxes of nine. They are usually the Wonderful brand of pomegranates. Once, when my son and I were on a pomegranate-kick, I bought two boxes at once. The pressure was on to eat 18 pomegranates before they went bad. (We kept them in the refrigerator to make them last longer.)

The great thing about buying them at the supermarket or farmers market is when you see them in abundance, they are in season. Chances are they are ripe. But you still want to be sure to pick the good ones. Take your time to pick the best ones. This means picking ripe pomegranates that are ready to eat, but aren’t so ripe that the arils are getting moldy.

When buying them at the store, I’d say there is a much greater chance of picking an overripe pomegranate versus an under-ripe pomegranate. However, if you see them out of season (I saw several at my local grocery store and at Costco at the beginning of June!) then there’s a chance they won’t be ripe. 

When picking them from a tree, that’s when you need to worry about them being ripe and mature. If they are green, don’t pick them.

As someone grows pomegranates (I get a few every year from my three small trees) and buys them individually (from my local grocery store, Safeway, or from Walmart) and by the boxful (from Costco), I explain what to know about picking ripe pomegranates.

There’s nothing like cutting open a perfect pomegranate, full of sweet, juicy, and tangy arils. I think they are majestic and beautiful and taste amazing.

Choose Ripe, Not Overripe When Buying

Pomegranates ripen on the tree. Unlike many other fruits, pomegranates do not ripen after they are harvested. This means, if you are buying them from a store or farm stand, chances are they are red and already ripe. So rather than looking for ripe vs unripe, you need to be more concerned if they are ripe vs overripe.

When buying pomegranates, you want to be sure they aren’t overripe. There’s a small chance they will be under-ripe but that’s usually if you are buying them out of season.

Choose Ripe, Not Under-ripe When Picking from a Tree

Because pomegranates ripen on the tree, not once they are on your countertop, you must harvest them when they are already ripe. Do not pick under-ripe pomegranates. Look for red, leathery skin. If they are green, don’t pick them. 

ripe arils
Ripe pomegranate arils ~ Image credit: My own

How to Tell if a Pomegranate is Ripe

Here are six ways to know when a pomegranate is ripe. They involve relying on your senses:

  1. Observe the color: Look for a deep, rich reddish-brown color, the telltale sign of a ripe pomegranate. Avoid green pomegranates which are not ripe. Look for all red and pink; it will depend on the variety. 
  2. Check the weight: Ripe pomegranates feel heavy for their size due to the juicy arils inside.
  3. Look at the size and shape: The fruit should also be approximately the size of a large orange. Ripe pomegranates tend to be round, plump, and slightly square in shape. When possible, choose pomegranates that look a little like boxy squares.
  4. Feel the texture: The skin of a ripe pomegranate should be moderately hard and slightly rough to the touch. It should seem leathery and be easy to scratch. When picking from the store, don’t pick any with cuts or bruises. If harvesting from a pomegranate tree, pick any that are cracking open or splitting.
  5. Tap it: Just as you may knock on a watermelon to see if it’s hollow-sounding, you can tap on a pomegranate to determine if it’s ripe. It should sound a bit hollow and metallic when ripe. If it sounds like a dampened thump, choose another one.
  6. Press down: If it’s mushy, do not buy it.

By following these steps, you’ll know how to choose a pomegranate that’s ripe and ready to be enjoyed, whether from a tree or a store.

Note: Do not spend money on a pomegranate from the supermarket if it’s already cracking open. However, if the fruits are cracking open hanging from your tree, harvest them immediately. Enjoy them soon after picking so they don’t spoil.

How Pomegranates Ripen

If you are interested in learning more about how to know if a pomegranate is ripe, it’s helpful to understand a bit about the pomegranate’s biology. Its maturation and ripening process are unique, and understanding this process can aid in identifying a ripe pomegranate.

Growth and Ripening Periods

Pomegranates grow on small, shrubby trees. The fruits typically reach their peak ripeness in the late fall. Fruits are ready to harvest around 6 – 7 months after flowers appear.

Timing can fluctuate a bit depending on the local climate and the specific pomegranate variety. In the United States, pomegranates usually ripen between September and December. Some ripen into January. 

Ripening Process

Unlike many fruits, pomegranates do not ripen off the tree. This is crucial to remember when harvesting pomegranates or choosing them at the store. If a pomegranate isn’t ripe when you pick or buy it, it won’t become ripe. This means it’s important to know how to identify a ripe pomegranate at the moment of picking from a tree.

The Structure

A ripe pomegranate is a treasure trove of juicy arils: the edible seeds enclosed in a juicy red covering. These arils grow in small, compartmentalized clusters within the pomegranate, separated by a bitter, white, inedible membrane. The arils’ color, taste, and juiciness are key indicators of a pomegranate’s ripeness.

But looking at a pomegranate on the outside is how to determine if it’s ready on the inside. 

how to pick ripe pomegranates
How to pick ripe pomegranates – Look for red skin that looks like leather. Image credit: My own

Ripe vs Unripe Pomegranate

An unripe pomegranate has a vibrant green color that gradually darkens to a red as it ripens on the tree. The skin is softer and the fruit lighter than its ripe counterpart. Knowing the difference between a ripe and unripe pomegranate is important so you get the most for your money at the grocery store and/or so you can have a good harvest.

It’s disappointing to wait all year for your pomegranates to grow and then pick them too early. Be patient. However, if possible, don’t wait for them to split and crack. By this time, it’s already starting to over-ripen. Also, insects could already be inside feasting on your fruits.

Picking a Ripe Pomegranate from a Tree

If you are lucky enough to be pomegranate picking in your backyard or at an orchard, it’s important to know when a pomegranate ripe and ready for harvest.

Examine the color: Look for a deep red color, the hallmark of a ripe pomegranate. Do not pick green pomegranates.

Check the size: If the pomegranate is about the size of a large orange, it’s likely ripe.

Feel its weight without removing it from the tree: Gently cup a red pomegranate in your hand. If the pomegranate feels heavy, it indicates ripeness.

Look for cracks: Sometimes, ripe pomegranates crack open slightly, revealing their ruby-red arils. Harvest these soon so you can enjoy them.

Consider the timing: In the United States, pomegranate fruits are ready to harvest in the late fall and into winter, typically 6 or 7 months after they bloom. If you pick ripe pomegranates one year, note the dates for next year to get a better idea of when the variety you have is ready to harvest.

Learn about growing your own pomegranate tree

Post-Harvest Ripening

Do pomegranates ripen off the tree? No, pomegranates do not continue to ripen after being harvested. Therefore, it’s essential to understand how to tell if pomegranate is ripe at the time of picking.

However, an already-ripe pomegranate will continue to ripen and will eventually spoil. So be sure to eat them ASAP so they don’t go to waste. You can refrigerate the whole fruits so they will last longer. Once you cut them, if you don’t eat them right away, cover them and refrigerate them for up to three days.

overripe pomegranate
Inside of an overripe pomegranate – the red arils are turning slightly brown ~ Image credit: My own

Choosing a Ripe Pomegranate at the Store

How to pick ripe pomegranates from a supermarket? Follow these steps:

  1. Look at the skin: A deep, uniform red color is a good sign. It should look like leather.
  2. Feel the weight: It should feel heavy for its size, indicating a juicy fruit.
  3. Check for blemishes: Avoid pomegranates with cuts, bruises, or mold.
  4. Gently press the skin: If it’s mushy, do not buy it.
  5. Examine the shape: Ripe pomegranates are round, plump, and have a slightly square shape. They should be the size of a large navel orange.
  6. Knock on it: If it sounds hollow or metallic, it’s a good sign that it’s ripe.

Buying Seasonal Pomegranates

If you’ve ever wondered how to know if a pomegranate is ripe when shopping, consider the seasonality. Purchasing seasonal fruits, including pomegranates, is one way to ensure freshness and optimal flavor. The peak season for pomegranates in the United States runs from October through January. When you buy pomegranates in the late fall and winter, you’re more likely to enjoy ripe, juicy fruits.

By purchasing pomegranates in their peak season, you’re stacking the odds in your favor for finding the ripest, juiciest fruit. Whether you’re choosing a pomegranate from a tree or a store, let the season guide you toward the perfect pick.

The benefits of buying seasonal pomegranates are multifold:


Buying pomegranates in season can be more cost-effective. Since the supply is abundant, prices are often lower. Plus, the higher likelihood of the fruits being at peak ripeness means you get the best value for your money. You’ll be less likely to buy a pomegranate that turns out to be under ripe or overripe, saving you from potential disappointment and waste.

Peak Flavor

Pomegranates harvested in season have had adequate time to ripen naturally on the tree, ensuring they’re bursting with the sweet-tangy flavor pomegranates are known for.

Nutritional Value

Seasonal fruits, including pomegranates, often boast higher nutritional values. They have reached their full potential naturally and have a higher content of vitamins and antioxidants.

Environmental Impact

Buying seasonal fruit contributes to reducing the carbon footprint since the fruits are usually locally sourced and do not require long-haul transport. Most of the pomegranates grown commercially in the United States are grown in California.

Supporting Local Economy

When you buy seasonal, you’re often buying local. This support helps local farmers and contributes to the community’s economic health. When in season, all the pomegranates in stores near my home were grown in California. When I see pomegranates out of season (in the US) they have stickers that say they were grown in Peru.

pomegranate arils in cup
If you are buying just the arils, check the pomegranate arils in cup to be sure they are fresh and not moldy — Don’t just check the expiration date. I learned this the hard way! ~ Image credit: My own

Pomegranate Season

The arrival of pomegranate season is typically from October through January in the United States. During these months, supermarkets and farmers’ markets abound with pomegranates at their peak ripeness.

I love putting out cut pomegranates on charcuterie boards for winter gatherings. They up the visual appeal and presentation factor with their uniqueness and vibrant colors. Plus they are a bit more upscale-seeming than only serving cheese, crackers, grapes, etc. The crimson and deep-red exteriors of these seasonal gems add a splash of color to the display and also a mix of sweetness and tang from the arils.

Whether you’re selecting your fruit from the neatly stacked displays of a grocery store or from the tables at a local farmers’ market, understanding how to tell if a pomegranate is ripe becomes significantly easier during this fruitful season.

Enjoy the bounty of the season by choosing pomegranates that are heavy for their size and free from blemishes, ensuring a delightful, nutritious treat every time.

pomegranate inside
Ripe arils inside of pomegranate ~ they should be crimson or dark red and juicy ~ Image credit: My own

Overripe Pomegranate

An overripe pomegranate exhibits certain telltale signs. Its skin is often wrinkled and feels softer than usual. If it’s soft or mushy, do not buy it. The color may have patches of brown or appear overly dark. It may feel lighter than expected, as the arils inside could have started drying out. Furthermore, overripe pomegranates may develop mold, especially around the stem area or in cracks in the skin. 

Underripe Pomegranate

An underripe pomegranate displays a different set of characteristics. Its skin is usually a lighter shade of red or even green, rather than the deep red of ripe pomegranates. It tends to feel lighter in weight due to the lack of juicy arils inside. The skin of an underripe pomegranate can also feel harder and less yielding than that of a ripe one. This type of fruit often lacks the characteristic metallic sound when you tap it.

pomegranate tree flowering
Pomegranate tree flowers are vibrant ~ Pomegranates will ripen and be ready to pick around 6 – 7 months after they bloom. Image credit: My own

When to Pick Pomegranates

Pomegranates are typically ready to be picked in the late fall, although the precise timing can vary based on local climate and specific cultivar. A ripe pomegranate ready for picking exhibits a deep red exterior color, feels heavy for its size, and is approximately the size of a large orange.

Sometimes, ripe pomegranates even slightly crack open on the tree, revealing their jewel-like arils.

Remember, once harvested, pomegranates do not become mature, so ensure they have reached full maturity before removing them from a tree.

However, already-ripe pomegranates will eventually become overripe once picked from the tree or after you buy them from the store. Like all fruit, they will eventually go bad or “go off”. 

Types of Pomegranates and Their Ripeness Indicators

Pomegranates come in several varieties, each with distinct traits that can influence their appearance when ripe, under ripe, or overripe. Recognizing the specific characteristics of each variety aids in understanding how to know if a pomegranate is ripe, regardless of the type.


This is perhaps the most popular variety of pomegranate in the United States. You will often see the brand “Pom Wonderful” in the store. When ripe, the Wonderful pomegranate has a bright to dark red outer skin. If underripe, the skin can be pink or partly green, and if overripe, it may start to show wrinkles or dark spots.

Angel Red

This variety is known for its dark red exterior and large arils. A ripe Angel Red pomegranate will have a deep, almost crimson color. An underripe fruit may still have patches of green, while an overripe one might exhibit wrinkles and softened skin.


A ripe Granada pomegranate boasts a glossy, bright red skin. If underripe, it tends to be lighter in color, while overripe fruits develop a dull skin with brownish spots.


Parfianka pomegranates are praised for their rich flavor. When ripe, they possess a red to slightly pinkish-red skin. If underripe, the skin may be more pink than red. Overripe Parfianka pomegranates may display dull, wrinkled skin.

How to Store Pomegranates

Storage plays an important role in maintaining the quality of your pomegranates. Once ripe, you can store whole pomegranates at room temperature for about a week. For longer storage, place them in the refrigerator, where they can last up to two months. However, how long you can store pomegranates is dependent on how ripe they are when you buy or harvest them. If they are already overripe, they won’t last as long.

Once you cut the pomegranate and remove the arils (deseed the pomegranate), it won’t last as long. You can store the arils in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (sometimes 5 days), or frozen for several months.

If you cut a pomegranate in half, and use only one half, you can refrigerate the other half. Put it in an airtight container, seal it with plastic wrap, or put it in a plastic bag (squeeze out as much air as you can). It should last 3 – 5 days.

Pomegranate Health Benefits

Eating fresh fruits for the win! It’s worth knowing how to tell if a pomegranate is ripe so you can benefit from the antioxidants, Vitamin C, and dietary fiber, and all the other good things the medical professionals say pomegranates have. So, choosing a ripe pomegranate not only promises a delicious treat but also a nutritious one.


How to tell if a pomegranate is ripe?

To determine the ripeness of a pomegranate, you can check for a deep, red exterior color, a size comparable to a large orange (but should be boxy, not circular), and a moderately hard texture. A ripe pomegranate will also feel heavy for its size due to the juicy arils inside.

How do you know if a pomegranate is ripe on the tree?

When the fruit is still on the tree, it’s ripe when it has a deep red color, is about the size of a large orange, feels heavy, and possibly even cracks open slightly, revealing its ruby-red arils.

How to know if pomegranate is ripe at the grocery store?

In a grocery store, a ripe pomegranate should have a deep, uniform red color and feel heavy for its size. Avoid pomegranates that are soft or mushy and those with blemishes, such as cuts or bruises. Choose pomegranates that are round, plump, and slightly square-shaped. Buying them in the fall and winter, aka pomegranate season in the United States, will also help ensure they are ripe.

Do pomegranates ripen after being picked?

No, pomegranates do not continue to ripen after being picked. That’s why it’s important to know how to tell if a pomegranate is ripe before harvesting it.

ripe pomegranate
Ripe pomegranate arils ~ Image credit: My own

How can I tell the difference between a ripe vs unripe pomegranate?

A ripe pomegranate typically has a deep red to reddish-brown exterior, is heavy for its size, and has a moderately hard, leathery skin. An unripe pomegranate will be green and light with soft skin. 

When to pick pomegranates from the tree?

In the United States, pomegranates are usually ready to harvest from October through January, depending on the climate and variety. If you grow pomegranate trees, look for the blooms. The fruits are typically mature and ready to pick about 6 or 7 months after they flower. 

Pomegranates should be picked from the tree when they have a deep red color, are about the size of a large orange, and feel heavy. Sometimes, ripe pomegranates may crack open slightly. 

When is a pomegranate ripe to eat?

A pomegranate is ripe and ready to eat when its exterior color is deep red, the fruit is heavy for its size, and the skin is moderately hard. The pomegranate skin should look like leather. If you tap the fruit, it should make a metallic sound. 

What happens if you eat an unripe pomegranate?

Eating an unripe pomegranate is not harmful, but it may not offer the optimal taste experience. Unripe pomegranates can be very sour compared to ripe ones, which are sweet and tangy. The arils will be pink or lighter red.

Do you need to refrigerate pomegranate seeds?

Yes, you need to refrigerate pomegranate seeds whether you remove them from a fresh pomegranate or you buy the seeds in cups on their own. Before buying the cups, look at the bottom to be sure none are moldy. 

Should you store pomegranate seeds?

You can store pomegranate seeds in the refrigerator for 3 – 5 days. Be sure they are completely covered. The times you should not store pomegranate seeds are if you removed them from an overripe pomegranate. You should consume them sooner rather than later so they don’t spoil. 

Do you eat the middle of pomegranate seeds?

Yes, you can eat the middle of pomegranate seeds though they are harder than the juicy exterior. 

Are you supposed to eat the pomegranate seeds or just the juice?

The edible fruit of the pomegranate are the seeds. They are juicy with an edible but harder center. You can also extract the juice from the seeds if you prefer. The seeds are called arils. 

What is the difference between pomegranate seeds and arils?

Pomegranate seeds and arils are the same thing. They are the crimson juicy jewels you remove from pomegranates and eat. You can spoon them out or pick them apart. 


Pomegranates are prized for their unique taste and their health benefits. But how do you know when a pomegranate is ripe and ready to eat? Check it’s color, heaviness, sound, skin, and shape.

Learning how to tell if a pomegranate is ripe means you will be able to enjoy this fruit at its best. I think pomegranates are wonderful, and as I mentioned above, I buy them often when they are available in season. I know I will have to wait another 10 months before enjoying them again, so I buy them whenever I can. 

I hope you will use this information on how to know if pomegranate is ripe, how to tell if a pomegranate is ripe from a tree, and how to pick ripe pomegranates at the store. So the next time you’re faced with a bin full of pomegranates, you’ll know exactly which one to choose.

Knowing how to pick the best pomegranates will help you not waste money by buying pomegranates that aren’t ripe or are overripe.

Whether you’re picking them from a tree or from your local supermarket, remember the deep red color, the plump, boxy shape, and the weight are your key indicators of a ripe pomegranate. 

The featured image with a box of pomegranates: My own