There are several ways to tell if a pomegranate is ripe, including weight, color and texture of the surrounding outer skin. Most pomegranates arrive at grocery stores fully ripened, but there are several ways to make sure they are ready to be consumed. The ripest pomegranates generally have firm, smooth skins and are heavy, which means that they are full of juice.
Pomegranates are unique among many fruits because their skin becomes firmer and less pliable as they ripen, instead of softening. Pomegranates are also unique in the sense that unlike many other fruits, they do not produce a sweet and distinct smell when at their peak. The color of pomegranates varies, and ranges from a medium solid red color to dark red shades, such as crimson and cherry red.
Although relatively hardy, these fruits, as with other produce, may be damaged during the process of shipping and handling. They may have small surface abrasions, such as bruises and nicks, which appear unsightly but do not mean that the fruit is bad. Pomegranates are produced by trees that grow primarily in hot and arid climates and require very little water. These trees, as with the fruit, are quite durable. It generally takes pomegranate trees 3 years to begin producing fruit, and their subsequent production depends on the species and local environmental conditions.