How do you know if pomegranate seeds are still good?

Pomegranates are a delicious and nutritious fruit that have become increasingly popular in recent years. The juicy red seeds (arils) inside a pomegranate are often eaten fresh or used to add flavor, color, and crunch to salads, yogurt, desserts, and more. But like most fresh produce, pomegranates don’t last forever. So how can you tell if pomegranate seeds are still safe to eat?


Appearance is the first indicator of freshness when it comes to pomegranate seeds. Fresh pomegranate arils will be plump, juicy, and bright red in color. As they start to go bad, arils will become darker, drier, and shriveled.

Here’s a visual guide to identifying good vs. bad pomegranate seeds:

Fresh Seeds Old Seeds
  • Plump and juicy
  • Bright, glossy red
  • Firm texture
  • Shriveled or deflated
  • Dull, darker red
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Soft, mushy

As you can see, fresh pomegranate arils look appetizing while older ones appear unappealing and dried out. Trust your eyes and avoid any bag of arils that contains shriveled or brownish seeds.


Smell is another important sense to use. Pomegranate seeds have a sweet, fruity smell when fresh. If you notice the seeds have little or no aroma, or give off unpleasant odors, it’s best not to eat them.

Here are some examples of what fresh vs. spoiled pomegranate seeds might smell like:

Fresh Seeds Spoiled Seeds
Sweet, fruity Fermented, winy, sour
Pleasant, floral Stale, musty, rotten

Trust your nose – if it smells off, it likely is off.


The ultimate test is, of course, tasting a seed or two. Fresh pomegranate arils pop delightfully in your mouth and taste sweet and tart, but not acidic. Spoiled pomegranate seeds may taste fermented, bitter, or just bland and flavorless.

Here’s a taste comparison of fresh vs. spoiled pomegranate arils:

Fresh Seeds Spoiled Seeds
Sweet and tart Bitter, sour, fermented taste
Juicy when chewed Dry, mealy, or mushy texture
Bright, fruity flavor Musty, moldy, or no flavor

If you get any bad tastes when sampling a seed, spit it out and do not eat them. Even if just a few seeds taste off, it’s safest to discard the entire batch.

Expiration Date

If your pomegranate seeds come prepackaged in a container or bag, check the expiration or best-by date. This date will give you an idea of how long the seeds stay fresh and should be consumed by. Discard any bags that are past the printed date.

As a general guideline, commercially packaged pomegranate arils should last:

  • Refrigerated: 5-7 days past the printed date
  • Frozen: 8-12 months past the printed date

Note that expiration dates are usually conservative estimates for peak freshness. Properly stored seeds may sometimes last a bit longer, but it’s not worth risking illness if they go bad.

Storage Conditions

How pomegranate seeds are stored impacts their longevity. Arils kept in optimal conditions will last longer before spoiling. Here are the best storage methods:

  • Refrigeration: Store fresh arils in a sealed container in the fridge. Cold temperatures (34-40°F) slow spoilage. They’ll keep 5-7 days.
  • Freezing: Spread arils in a single layer on a tray and freeze, then transfer to an airtight bag or container. Frozen, they’ll last 8-12 months.
  • Cold pack: Vacuum seal or can arils in sugar syrup. Properly processed, these last 18+ months at room temp.

In contrast, pomegranate seeds left at room temperature or exposed to warmth and humidity will deteriorate faster.

Signs of Spoilage

Along with observing the taste, texture, appearance and smell of your pomegranate arils, watch for these signs that indicate spoilage:

  • Mold growth – white, fuzzy patches or spots on the seeds.
  • Fermented odor – vinegar-like smell.
  • Slimy texture – seeds feel wet or slippery.
  • Carbonation – seeds fizz when squeezed.
  • Discolored liquid – in bag or container.

The presence of any of these characteristics means the pomegranate arils have gone bad and should be discarded. Don’t take risky chances with your health.

What Makes Seeds Spoil?

There are a few main culprits that can cause fresh pomegranate seeds to spoil faster:

  • Microbes: Bacteria, yeasts and mold can grow on the arils, causing off-flavors, sliminess, and other deterioration.
  • Oxidation: Exposure to air causes oxidation, which degrades nutrients, flavor compounds, and the red color.
  • Enzymes: Naturally present enzymes break down ingredients, lowering quality over time.
  • Temperature: Heat speeds up chemical reactions and microbe growth that spoil seeds.

Proper storage limits these spoilage factors. Refrigeration, freezing, and sealing arils in syrup or jars inhibits microbial growth and oxidation, preserving freshness longer.

When in Doubt, Throw it Out

Pomegranate seeds can harbor dangerous bacteria like Salmonella and Listeria if they’ve gone bad. Eating spoiled arils could cause serious foodborne illness, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you have any concerns about the freshness of your pomegranate seeds, it’s best to just discard them. The risk of getting sick is not worth the small benefit of potentially salvaging some arils.

Some general food safety guidelines for pomegranate arils include:

  • Discard moldy or severely damaged seeds
  • Don’t taste arils that smell suspicious
  • Throw away arils more than 5-7 days old
  • When in doubt, throw it out!

Following basic food handling and hygiene practices can protect you as well. Wash hands before and after handling pomegranate seeds, wash produce, and sanitize surfaces and utensils.

Taking these simple precautions will help ensure you safely enjoy all the delicious crunch and nutritious benefits that pomegranate arils have to offer.


Knowing how to determine if pomegranate seeds are still fresh comes down to using your senses and being aware of how they were stored. Look for plump, juicy arils with bright red color. Give them a sniff and taste test for any unpleasant odors or flavors. Check expiration dates and storage conditions. Watch for signs of spoilage like mold or sliminess. When in doubt, remember it’s better to play it safe and throw away questionable pomegranate seeds.

With a little care and common sense, you can keep your pomegranate arils tasting great and avoid foodborne illness. Trust your eyes, nose and taste buds to enjoy these gems of nutrition and flavor at their best.

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