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Pomegranates: Xinjiang’s Best Foods

September 27 | 16 Comments

Local Name:  “Anar”
Chinese Name: 石榴 (shí liu)
Alternate Names: “The stinkin’ coolest Xinjiang fruit”
Description:  A fruit predominantly grown in the south and western regions of Xinjiang that makes a tasty snack or refreshing juice.

Xinjiang Pomegranate Country

Although Xinjiang pomegranates can be found all along the southeastern rim of the Taklamakan Desert, the area around Yecheng near Kashgar is the most famous. Pomegranates from these orchards are said to be the sweetest available in the world.

The image of a Xinjiang pomegranate has been a recurring theme in the region’s history, found in various forms of art including the high-quality carpets that also come from this region.

Xinjiang Pomegranate Season: The best time to look for pomegranates in Xinjiang starts as early as August and extends all the way through December or January.

Pomegranates as a Snack

I ate my first Xinjiang pomegranate my first year living there and I’m embarrassed by how little I knew about the fruit. So clueless was I that I didn’t actually know what to do with it when it was handed to me.

I quickly learned how to peel open the skin (which, by the way, is quite bitter) and eat the luscious red sacs (seeds and all!) that fill every free space inside.

Tip for choosing Xinjiang pomegranates: As a general rule of thumb, the heavier the pomegranate the juicier it is (and that’s a good thing). Outside color doesn’t matter as much as you might think, so don’t be discouraged if they don’t have bright red skin.

A man sells pomegranates off a street cart

Pomegranate Juice

One of my favorite Xinjiang-vendor treats is a glass of freshly-squeezed Xinjiang pomegranate juice. Not only is it extremely healthy, it’s also a fun process to watch.

A vendor squeezes pomegranate juice in Xinjiang

Often you’ll see these contraptions along the street or in the market that look like they are medieval torture devices. Fear not, they are merely glorified juicers.

For anywhere from 2RMB to 20RMB (depending on the size of the glass) the vendor will cut open a fresh pomegranate, squeeze it in front of you and pour you a glass. Be prepared, though: I have a hard time doing anything other than sipping fresh juice thanks to its dark flavor.

Also worth trying: Xinjiang pomegranate wine. It’s sweet, it’s unique and it’s not terribly expensive!

A cart filled with glasses of pomegranate juice in Xinjiang, China

Want to know some other great Xinjiang foods that you have to try whenever you make your way to Xinjiang? Then check out all the FarWestChina articles on Xinjiang Uyghur Food!

About Josh Summers

Josh is the author of Xinjiang | A Traveler's Guide to Far West China, the most highly-reviewed and comprehensive travel guide on China's western region of Xinjiang. He lived, studied and run a business in Xinjiang, China for more than 10 years, earning recognition for his work from CCTV, BBC, Lonely Planet and many others.

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  1. Wow, you make me miss the pomegranates from Kazakhstan and the US. I love this fruit. I cannot find it here in Vietnam.

    Josh on September 27th, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Bummer. There were things I couldn’t find in Xinjiang that always made me sad. Example: avacados. Not a single one in Xinjiang.

    SaigonNezumi(Kevin) on September 29th, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Avocados are everywhere in Vietnam. A popular drink is a shake with avocado highly sweetened, the best shake in the world I think. Sinh To Bo is the Viet name.

  2. Great minds think alike, Josh – Shaanxi Pomegranates – and sometimes we do too!! You and I are probably going through similar waves of China withdrawal. We should start a support group or something.

    Josh on September 28th, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Ha! I wasn’t aware that Shaanxi had great pomegranates, so thanks for sharing! Yea, a support group would be nice…or maybe I should just move back :)

    Mark on September 30th, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    You probably have the right idea on moving back, Josh.

    I’m still cautiously optimistic about one day finding the job that will allow us to spend significant amounts of time in China every year while having the US as our main base of operations.

    Qian is already on that path having 2.5 months off every summer as a teacher. Now I just need to come up with something similar so that we can have a yearly extended trip back to the middle Kingdom.

    Josh on October 2nd, 2010 at 1:26 am

    Good luck! :)

  3. Not just the pomegranates, but many other fruits of Xinjiang are quite the treat and different from the USA and other places.

    Have you ever picked a fresh fig off a tree and ate it (after patting it 3 times as a Uyghur/Muslim would do?!)

    And what about pears much bigger than your hand?!

    Or JUICY Korla pears?! (I don’t care for pears in the USA).

    I visited a Uyghur family’s village home that had all of these in their little courtyard, which of course also had grapes too!!

    Wow, so wonderful. Miss that family (my adopted family in a way) and the wonderful fruits of Xinjiang!

    Josh on September 29th, 2010 at 7:41 am

    You’re so right. Pomegranates are just one of the many great fruits that are grown on Xinjiang.

    One of these days I’ll be doing an article about all these different fruits and where they’re gown here. Thanks for the idea!

  4. I love Anar! One of the first blog I ever wrote was about this wonderful fruit. Now that it is fall they are for sale on every street corner, and your blog has inspired me to go shopping.

  5. I love pomegranates! Last year a customer of mine brought a pomegranate from Tajikistan for me to try. Sure tasted better than the one’s from the USA. I would love to try a sweet pomegranate from Xinjiang Province. Is there any way to get pomegranate fruit from there to here?

    Josh Summers on June 30th, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Honestly, I have no idea Shane! It would be quite the journey but I’m sure it’s possible somehow.

  6. Hi
    I just discovered your blog and find this so interesting. it’s true from the outside, mosly negative views on this region, so refreshing to have additional insights!:) One question: why is it also called stinking fruit? I don’t recall this fruit is anyhow stinky? thanks a lot!:)