Honey Pomelo – what is it, how to peel it and eat it?

Have you ever tried a honey pomelo? This large citrus fruit can be found in the produce section from late fall to early spring. Here’s more about this tasty unique citrus fruit.

honey pomelo

What Is It?

Pomelo is a type of citrus fruit native to South and SouthEast Asia.  It’s the biggest of all citrus fruit weighing between 2-4 pounds (1-2 kg). It comes in several different varieties all larger than grapefruit.

Pomelo is the least acidic of all citrus fruit and does not taste as “sour” as other citrus fruit. While some varieties are more juicy than others, pomelo is typically less juicy than other citrus fruit.

The flesh color is semi-transparent and may be pale lime, yellow, peach or dark pink depending on variety. 

Pomelo varieties are often not identified in the store. Based on my experience, unless specifically labeled otherwise, it is the light yellow Honey pomelo that is being sold under the “Pomelo” sign. We’ve also bought pomelos labeled as “Grapefruit Pomelo” which was light pink, juicier and a little more tart than the honey pomelo. “Ruby Pomelo” and “Jaffa Red” were deep pink varieties that were very similar in flavor to the honey pomelo. You can always try asking the produce manager if he happens to know the variety or color of the pomelo if that’s really important to you.

Here it is in comparison to a tangelo. The skin of the pomelo is smooth like a grapefruit, but the fruit itself is quite a bit larger. Botanists believe that the pomelo came before the grapefruit and that the grapefruit is a cross between a pomelo and an orange.
Honey Pomelo

As it ripens the skin typically turns from green to yellow although some green may remain on the peel even when at its ripest.  The rind of a pomelo is quite thick, but once scored, fairly easy to peel. The membrane between slices is very tough and papery, you’ll definitely want to remove it as I demonstrate in the video. The fruits I’ve had were all seedless with a few very tiny underdeveloped seeds.  Look how thick and spongy the rind is!

Honey Pomelo Peel

What Does It Taste Like?

The flavor is milder than a grapefruit – not as bitter, not as sour but there is definitely a resemblance. I also found them to be much more firm and less juicy than a grapefruit. Everyone in our house, young and old, enjoyed the flavor and texture.  Here’s a comparison of a pomelo segment and a grapefruit segment.Pomelo vs grapefruit segment

Unfortunately, sometimes you get an old or dried out pomelo where the flesh is very, very dry. It’s hard to avoid sometimes, but always select the heaviest blemish free pomelo you can find. That’s an unfortunate drawback of getting fruit from far away.

red pomelo segments

How to Select a Good Pomelo?

I’m happy to offer some hints for selecting good pomelos, but please know that when you live in a country where pomelo don’t grow, like we do, there’s a chance the pomelo will not be at its peak. Travelling and warehousing take its toll on fresh produce. Nonetheless, it’s worth trying! Here are my top tips for choosing the best pomelo:

  • Consider the time of year. You’re likely going to have best results mid-season (February). If it’s the very first shipment of pomelos in the store (December/January), they might have been picked slightly underripe. If it’s late in the pomelo season (April), you might be seeing pomelos that have been stored for a while.
  • Look for smooth, blemish free rind. It’s likely that the rind will have a green tinge to it, that’s normal for pomelos and doesn’t necessarily mean it’s underripe. But be weary if it’s too green.
  • Feel for any soft spots and avoid those.
  • Hold and compare pomelos. Look for the one that feels heaviest, it’s likely the juiciest!
  • Go for middle of the road in terms of size and color.

Once you bring your pomelo home, keep it on the counter for no more than 5 to 6 days. If you want to store it longer, keep it in the fridge, but let it come to room temperature before serving for best flavor.

How Do You Peel a Pomelo?

Getting at the fruit inside does take a bit of time and patience.  If you’re the type of person who likes the challenge of removing all the white stuff (pith) off a mandarin orange – you’re going to love pomelos! Actually, pomelos are peeled differently than any other citrus.

To help you out, I’ve created both a YouTube video and a visual on How to Peel a Pomelo.

[youtube width=300 height=200]YDsHTcF4xbA[/youtube]

How to Peel a Honey Pomelo

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Honey Pomelo

The largest member of the citrus family. This giant takes a bit of work to get into, but has citrus flavor but is not as juicy as other citrus.
Prep : 10 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pomelo

Instructions

  • Slice top and bottom off the pomelo where the pith meets the flesh. The stem end will be thicker than the bottom of the pomelo.
  • Use a sharp knife to score four cuts in the peel from the top to bottom at equal distances around the pomelo. Do not cut into the flesh, cut the peel only.
  • Peel off the skin.
  • Follow the natural segments of the pomelo to pry it in half.
  • Remove the papery wall membranes from each segment carefully to keep segments as whole as possible.
  • If needed, use a paring knife to remove the tough part of the pith.
  • Eat and enjoy.
  • To store leftovers, wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge for 2 to 3 days.
Tried this recipe?Mention @GetGettyS or tag #GetGettyS

How To Eat It?

Once you’ve peeled and segmented them, just eat ’em as is.  We had pomelo slices and brownies for dessert the other night – yummy!  We also ate some as snacks throughout the day, I just left the peeled segments in a sealed container in the fridge – by the end of the day everyone had snacked away on them and the bowl was empty. One was enough for a family of four – with a few leftover slices.

Plate of Pomelo Segments

You can also make sweet or savory salads with them.  Basically, you can use them anywhere you would use grapefruit or oranges.

Here’s a link to a traditional Thai Salad with shrimp.  You can also try it in this yogurt and granola parfait or in any of the citrus salads.

Let me know if you try it and what you think of it.

Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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30 Comments

  1. Hi Getty could you tell me if this fruit is nearer grapefruit or orange and is it compatible to eat if you take warfarin thanx. Neil

    1. Hi Neil,
      I do not know if pomelo should be eaten by people taking warfarin. Grapefruit is a cross between a pomelo and orange, so there are definitely some similar traits between grapefruit and pomelo. I would not take any chances.

      Getty

  2. Hi Miss Steward, could please tell me if Valentine pomelo, and Chandler pomelo taste like. I want to buy the tree but I prefer the less bitter kind. I have hard time finding a good draft pomelo tree in Long Beach CA. Thanks

    1. Hi Ruby,
      I wish I could help, but I’m not familiar enough with the different varieties to advise you on this. My recommendation is to find a local greenhouse/garden centre or nursery that has intimate knowledge of what grows well in your area.

      Good luck!
      Getty

  3. Pomelo skin has many cancer fighting benefits. It is very bitter and hard to cover up in shakes. I read you can candy the skin. Do you have any suggestions for eating the skin?

    1. Hi Autumn,
      I have not found a way to eat the pomelo skins. Marmalade or candied peel might be worth a try, although I don’t have recipes for either of those.

      Good luck,
      Getty

  4. My son has just brought one and asked if l could ID the type of fruit it was. I,m lucky to be well travelled, so have already enjoyed the pomelo. However all the ones l have experienced had turned yell, whereas this one is still green. Do we have to wait for it to ripen before enjoying the excellent flavour of this exotic fruit ?

    1. Hi John
      It’s always fun to try new fruits. Citrus fruit does not ripen any further once picked, so go ahead and try what your son brought home. It’s good that you have previous experience so you can see if you’re going to have a fair evaluation. If it’s too tart because it’s underripe I hope you’ll try again!

  5. My daughter told me about a friend bringing pomelo to school for lunch. I decided to try one for home. What a pleasant surprise. It’s hard to believe such a pale looking fruit would have so much flavour.
    Thanks for showing how to peel the fruit. That was a bit of a workout for my hands, but it was well worth it.
    Desmond

    1. Hi Desmond,
      Oh I’m so glad you gave it a try and enjoyed it! Yes, they are definitely a bit of work, but well worth it. Once in a while you may get a dry one, but that’s just the way it goes. Glad you enjoyed your first one and know what to look forward to.

  6. Thank you so much! We have these growing in our back yard and I was at a loss as what to do with them!

    1. Wow, I am just a little bit envious – pomelos growing in your backyard?! Lucky you. Enjoy!

  7. While Florida I discovered pink pomelo which were delicious. Arriving back to Eastern Canada I found white pomelos from China which were very dried out and sure not like the ones from Florida groves. Once I discovered how to peel them, I became a fan.

    1. Food is always at its freshest and best when it’s local. We take our chances when eating food, especially produce, that has had to be shipped for many, many miles. I’ve run into a few dry pomelos as well, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying again. Love them! I bet those fresh pink Florida pomelos were amazing!

  8. Hi Getty, I love pomelos. The ones in the photos you show look good. The problem I have with pomelos in the US is that most of the ones you buy at the market are “Franken-fruit”. You can’t segment most of them as shown in your photos because they overlap and run together. I’d love to know where I can buy fruit that is more like the ones from Asia. Thanks, Robert

    1. Hi Robert,
      I wonder if smaller stores specializing in Asian foods might import better quality fruit compared to large grocery chains. Buying pomelos in North America is a bit of a hit and miss game for sure. Good luck.

  9. Thanks for the instruction. I picked it up not knowing anything about, other than it looked interesting haven’t tried it yet. As I’m on a Statin and you are not suppose to eat Grapefruits when taking Statins, I may not buy another one, even if I love them. 🙁

    1. Hi Gail,

      Glad you found the information useful and are taking the necessary precautions. Perhaps you can treat yourself to some other interesting fruit? If you have a chance to visit an Asian market there are some very tasty fruits – rambutan, lychee, mangosteen, jackfruit and so on.

      Wishing you best of health.

      Getty

    1. Interesting question Tom! Have you ever used any citrus in wine making? I bet you could make a limoncello with pomelo – pomelcello?! Keep us posted on your results.

      1. I’m trying Pomelocello next with my Lemoncello recipe! We are lucky here in Burbank. We start getting pomelos from San Diego and I prep them as soon as I get them, using my kitchen sheers to segment. I absolutely LOVE ice cold segmented pomelo!!

    1. Aw, shucks Pierre. I’ve had the occasional dry one as well. Hope you give them another chance. Best time to get them in the supermarket here in North America is late winter – January to March. Hope your next experience is juicier!

  10. Hi Getty ….Thank you for help with peeling .. Thoroughly love this fruit . What a great tasting fruit .

    1. Hi Carol. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It is a lovely fruit isn’t it – once you get in!

  11. This was a good guide to eating a lovely fruit! I decided to cut mine in half and use a grapefruit knife. I served it as is for tasting by my guests. I was amazing and tasted a bit like apple and grapefruit. tks

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