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.
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 labelled otherwise, it is the light yellow Honey pomelo that is being sold under the “Pomelo” sign. We’ve also bought pomelos labelled 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 colour 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.
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!
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.
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.
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 under-ripe. 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 colour.
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.
- 1 pomelo
- 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.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
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.
You can also make sweet or savoury salads with them. Basically, you can use them anywhere you would use grapefruit or oranges.
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.