Pomelo, Queen of Citrus

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You may have seen a small pile of pomelos in your grocery store before, but your eye may have passed them by because of their unfamiliarity.

They are usually yellow/green, and about two to three times larger than an orange.  Few grocery stores stock them in large quantities, so they are usually located off to the side of the grapefruit somewhere. Below is a picture of a pomelo next to a grapefruit. Yes, a grapefruit.  They are that big!

whole-pomelo-and-grapefruit

I discovered the wondrous pomelo during one of my favorite excursions – “find something weird in the produce department and try to figure out how to use it.” What I discovered would convince me that this is the best citrus fruit… Ever.

Pomelo originate from southeast Asia.  They taste very similar to a grapefruit, minus the bitter taste that turns most people off to grapefruit. That is what makes them so delicious! They pretty much taste like Fresca in a peel.

They have a very thick albedo, which is the white pithy part between the peel and the fruit. So, even though the pomelo appears extremely large, the edible portion inside is much smaller.  This very thick albedo can make them difficult to peel, so I usually cut mine into slices and eat them that way, biting each slice off of the peel as I go. Depending on the fruit, sometimes the membranes between sections can also be very thick and sometimes bitter, so eating around that is a good idea, too.

The most important part about choosing a good pomelo has to do with the smell.  When they are ripe and good, they have THE MOST HEAVENLY SMELL.  I could sniff them for days on end. My version of heaven smells like pomelos all. of. the. time.

When I have a nice, ripe pomelo sitting on my counter it makes my entire kitchen smell heavenly. I can smell it from across the room! It’s beautiful!

While in the grocery store, select a nice yellowy pomelo and give it a hearty sniff.  If you can easily detect a citrusy, grapefruity smell, it will probably taste nice and sweet inside.  If you can’t smell anything, or the smell is very faint, do not bother buying one. They usually aren’t cheap and it is worth it to wait for a really good one.

Other ways to pick a good one: the peel should be more yellow than green, the larger the fruit the better, and when squeezed it should have a little give which means the albedo is nice, soft and thick.

Pomelos are delicious to eat just as they are, but can also be incorporated into other lovely dishes. If you have the patience to remove all of the sections from the membranes, they are great in fresh fruit salads, and in China it is commonly used in pork stir fry.

Have you eaten a pomelo before? If you have, I would love to hear about it!

P.s. When we were in Disneyland 2 weeks ago, we saw gorgeous pomelo trees with beautiful, big fruit on them right on Mainstreet USA, near the entrance to Tomorrowland!  I got just as excited as my 2-year-old when she spotted Mickey Mouse. I wanted to pick one soooo badly.