If you are a regular reader, you may remember I went on an exclusive trip to POM Wonderful’s headquarters and orchards exactly one year ago. I briefly blogged about it here and even shared a video of the sexy fly over we did in their private jets. How fun was that!
I mentally scheduled this particular post, part II, for this month as its now harvest time for the ruby red fruit. I thought it’d be perfect timing to revisit my trip last year and this time share the incredible sights within the 18k acre orchard.
It just so happens their 2nd annual Blogger Harvest Tour just wrapped up. I stay in contact with the wonderful peeps at POM and had no idea they were doing it again. Thank goodness for Twitter, where I’ve been reading all about this years’ fabuloso trip! I’m not going to lie, I was kinda jealous, but that’s being selfish…I was there last year and it was quite special.
(this pom was sitting alone so I laid down and snapped him. Isn’t he cute!?)
After the fly-over, we drove 30 minutes from the runway to the fields. This is where we really went buck wild! It was like a bunch of grown-ups being dropped off in a huge candy field.
Lots of free candy at that.
There, we were greeted by Daniel, their laid back PR rep and Brad Paris, GM of the fresh produce line– a super, duper cool dude that I loved talking to. The latter spent a great amount of time going through the process of harvest, from prepping the field workers for the picking to quality control and logistics in getting the selected jewels to the plant.
He tickled us with a few demo’s on how to properly and safely open our crown jewels.
I wasn’t so elegant in opening mine. Go figure! But, I ate the arils.
(Fabulous hosts, L-R: Daniel, Brad, Andrea, Jeff)
His spiel continued with facts on the evolution of the fruit, which originated in the Middle East. We were informed on the different procedures exercised by the Wonderful brand, which set them apart from other purveyors of the fruit, like their ‘A-D’ grading process, ‘A’ being pristine and going to retailers such as Whole Foods while the ‘D”s make it to the likes of Walmart.
Their grade rating is determined by a sequence of variables, which begins at the orchard and is completed at the plant.
Most notable of the characteristics the fruit must bear to even achieve a grade are size, color (arils, mostly), external aesthetic (free of blemishes and gashes). Subsequently, varying retail prices are dictated by the plant given grade.
Things you want to avoid are green looking pomegranates, with bumpy and tattered skin, which are not yet ripened, such as the one below and ones whose arils are not ruby red in color.
From what I’ve seen, Whole Foods and the like definitely have the prettiest, yet most expensive pomegranates. Anywhere else and I’m sure you’ll find some with “bleached” arils, those that have been exposed to a lot of sunlight thus causing them to lighten in color.
Additionally, fresh fruits are selected for their international distribution, which boasts 55 countries. I’ll touch more on in the plant visit post.
After all the Q & A, some of us took off to grab a few of our own poms. This is when we went loose looking for the prettiest and sweetest. By the time we visited the orchard, the entire seasons’ fresh fruit to be used for retail had been hand selected. What we picked were the 2nd best of the harvest, which would be used for bottling juice.
(Eric from Eric Rivera Cooks and me)
Here’s a video of the delicious trip inside the orchard, which briefly touches on the picking process and what to look for! Thanks to the GM for spending a few minutes with me!
After our hour-long visit to the fields, we were extremely tickled and thrilled with what we had just experienced: an up front and personal touch, feel and pick kinda afternoon with a shiny red fruit.
I walked away with 8 pomegranates (did you see me hijack a few more while the group was socializing?). Doesn’t my expression just tell it all!?
A fabulous day, no doubt. New friends, new learnings, experiences and sights, great food and delicious treats to take home.
We went to the plant on our last day of our Harvest Tour. Stay tuned for Part III: an inside look at where it all goes down!
* huge and special thanks to Jeff (no longer with company) for lending me his awesome Canon camera and allowing me to capture over 1000 images, some of which are in the relevant posts (less the ones I’m in which he took himself). And to my dear friend, Dewayne for editing the vid on the super fly! Muah!
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