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How to Eat a Pomelo: 5 Ways to Use This Giant Citrus Fruit

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 2 min read

The pomelo is the world's largest citrus fruit. It’s pithy, tangy, and delicious.



What Is a Pomelo?

A pomelo (Citrus grandis) is a citrus fruit that is closely related to a grapefruit. Pomelos are famous for their size (up to a foot in diameter), much of which is due to their extra-thick pith—the white part of the peel underneath the rind. The rind ranges from yellow to light green, and the flesh ranges from yellow to pink.

The origins of the name “pomelo” (or “pummelo”) are unclear. The name may have come from the Malay word pumpulmas or the French word pomme. Another name for the pomelo, “shaddock,” was popularized by the unsubstantiated claim that a Captain Shaddock was the first to bring the fruit to Barbados in the sixteenth century.

Where Do Pomelos Grow?

The pomelo originated in Southeast Asia (Malaysia and Indonesia, specifically) and has likely been cultivated in China for thousands of years. Pomelos are now cultivated in tropical regions worldwide, as well as California. In Hawaii, the pomelo fruit is known as jabong.

What Does a Pomelo Taste Like?

There are many different varieties of wild and cultivated pomelos, and each varies in tartness, sweetness, and bitterness. In general, pomelos taste very much like grapefruits. Some of the pomelo varieties most prized by growers (and widely available in grocery stores and farmers markets) have a more delicate, floral taste than grapefruits. Honey pomelos are an easy-to-find variety with light yellow skin and flesh and a mild flavor.

Pomelos are also commonly cross-bred with other types of citrus. Crosses between the pomelo and other citrus fruit have led to the sweet orange (a cross between pomelo and mandarin), the grapefruit (pomelo and sweet orange), and the tangelo (pomelo and tangerine).

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How to Peel a Pomelo

You can remove the pomelo's easy-to-peel skin and thick pith with your hands, but it's easier to use a small paring knife if you want to cut perfect pomelo segments for, say, a fruit salad. To cut open a pomelo, first slice off the narrow top. Then make about six to eight incisions lengthwise around the pomelo, cutting down into the pith but stopping before you reach the flesh. Remove the rind and as much of the pith as you can, since it has a bitter flavor.

5 Ways to Eat a Pomelo

Use pomelo in the same way you would grapefruits. They're delicious eaten raw as a snack, but can also be turned into:

  1. Marmalade: Make pomelo marmalade the same way you would orange marmalade.
  2. Fruit salad: Add pomelos to both sweet and savory fruit salads to add a punchy burst of citrus flavor.
  3. Candy: Make candied pomelo peel and coat it in chocolate.
  4. Juice: You can drink fresh pomelo juice on its own, or use it instead of grapefruit juice in cocktails like the Paloma or the Greyhound.
  5. Marinade: The acid in pomelo juice tenderizes raw meat, making it a perfect marinade for meat or fish.

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