Grapefruit is a relative of the pomelo with much higher acidity. Since pomelos are more native to Asia and Southeast Asia than they are to Europe or North America, most Westerners are more familiar with grapefruit than we are with pomelo.
Grapefruit is so sour in its ripened form that, for most people, it is not pleasant to eat as it is.
When I was growing up, we covered grapefruit in sugar to balance the sour or bitter taste. If you add just the right amount of sugar, you can counterbalance the sourness without making the flavor too sweet.
A light sprinkling of sugar made it possible to eat a grapefruit and enjoy the flavor without wrinkling your entire face.
The pomelo fruit taste is almost like a grapefruit with sugar already added. You can bite right into a pomelo without encountering that acidic sourness. The rich citrus flavor of grapefruit is right there, no sugar is needed.
What Is Pomelo?
Pomelo is a member of the grapefruit family, native to Asia and Southeast Asia. The largest member of the citrus family, pomelos are almost the size of a soccer ball!
However, the actual fruit is much smaller. If you knock on the side of a pomelo you will hear a hollowness. This is because the rind is almost an inch thick, and the fruit inside is much smaller than the exterior dimensions.
The rind and the connective strands between segments are inedible and should be discarded, just like a grapefruit.
With the scientific name Citrus grandis, the size of a pomelo might be the most obvious thing about it immediately.
Pomelo trees are native to east Asia but have been cultivated in the West and around the world since the 18th century, when plantations were started in Barbados and the Caribbean.
Pomelo trees require constant, direct sunlight, and moist soil.
What Texture Does Pomelo Have?
The texture of a pomelo is almost identical to that of a grapefruit, or another citrus fruit.
Pomelos are juice with a burst of flavor from the first bite, and the flesh is stringy and pulpy like grapefruit or an orange.
If you are a fan of grapefruits or oranges, the texture of pomelo will be familiar to you.
You can eat pomelo in segments like an orange, or cut into the flesh directly like many people do with grapefruit. Either way, the flesh is watery and filled with string and pulp.
Where Does Pomelo Come From?
Pomelo is native to East Asia – particularly the tropical regions from Southern China to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia. That is where this fruit species first started, and where a lot of pomelo cultivation still takes place.
Pomelo requires a very hot climate, so it can be difficult to grow in northern or southern locations, far from the equator. Pomelo plantations tend to thrive in countries close to the equator.
If you live in North America or Europe, the chances are high that any fresh pomelo you buy from the grocery store has been imported from one of these countries. Look for the freshest pomelos you can from some of the top producers.
Here are the top 10 producers of Pomelo, worldwide, according to market research from Tridge.com
- United States
- South Africa
Is Pomelo Good For You?
Pomelo is a healthy fruit that makes a great part of a healthy diet.
A serving of pomelo includes 400% of your daily requirements for vitamin C! It also contains an abundance of potassium, as well as many other important nutrients.
Pomelo is high in fiber, which helps regulate your gut and reduce inflammation.
It also includes important antioxidants that reduce the free radicals in your body and help to prevent cancer. Some examples are naringenin and naringin, as well as lycopene, which is an anti-inflammatory also found in tomatoes.
There are plenty of health benefits to eating pomelo, so if you enjoy the taste, don’t be afraid to load up and make it a part of your regular diet.
Is Pomelo Dangerous?
Pomelo is a healthy fruit that is not dangerous for most people, but there are some exceptions to be aware of.
Like grapefruit, pomelo contains compounds called furanocoumarins that can interact with and disrupt the proper functioning of certain medications.
Furanocoumarins have been shown to increase the blood level amounts of more than 85 pharmaceutical drugs.
This is important because eating pomelo when you take certain drugs can either increase their dose, prevent them from working properly, or both.
The effect of furanocoumarins is significant and can be dangerous for certain medications. It doesn’t take much – a single pomelo is likely enough. Also, the effects can last for days.
A pomelo you ate before the weekend can still affect your ability to uptake medication the following Monday.
If you are taking any medication that warns you not to eat grapefruit, it’s important to understand that this includes pomelo, too.
How Can I Store Pomelo? Can You Freeze Pomelo?
You can store pomelo in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or let it hang out on your countertop for less time than that, but you should absolutely never freeze a pomelo.
Like grapefruit, pomelos are juicy, watery fruits that don’t survive the freezing process. A previously frozen grapefruit or pomelo doesn’t taste the same and has a mushy texture.
You don’t have to eat a pomelo immediately, but if you want to store one for later, use the fridge and not the freezer.
Can You Grow Pomelo?
You can grow pomelo trees, depending on where you live, but it’s probably easier to pick one up from the grocery store.
Pomelos trees are large and fickle, requiring a good farmer with more than a little bit of patience.
Today, pomelo trees are grown in some drier countries like the United States and Israel, but this is only because irrigation supports the pomelo’s desire for moist roots and plenty of water.
They are not particularly picky about soil and can grow in clay, loam, or sand of varying pH levels, as long as they get lots of water and adequate drainage.
Pomelo trees grow best in hot and humid climates, and it can be difficult to get much yield from these trees if they are not kept happy and comfortable with lots of sunlight and water.
It takes about 8 years for a pomelo tree to produce its first harvest, so if you are growing pomelo trees to get the fruit, you’ll have to be patient.
Pomelo Nutritional Value
|Riboflavin||12.6% Of The Daily Value|
|Thiamine||17.3% Of The Daily Value|
|Vitamin C||412% Of The Daily Value|
|Copper||32% Of The Daily Value|
|Potassium||28% Of The Daily Value|
Best Pomelo Recipes
|Thai Pomelo Salad With Mint And Shallots||n/a||25 Minutes|
|Pink Pomelo And Rose Tarts With Honey Meringue||n/a||1 Hour 5 Minutes|
|Vietnamese Pomelo Salad Rolls||178||1 Hour|
This authentic Thai salad is bursting with flavor, as the citrus of pomelo mixes with lime juice and fish sauce, and interacts with mint, shallots, and other vegetables.
If you’re not used to eating fruit like pomelo in a salad, it’s worth giving it a shot. The mix of flavors is like nothing else, and the lime juice and mint in this recipe in particular bring out the bright and fruit flavor of the pomelo so it can shine.
Pomelo makes a perfect savory salad star, alongside supporting roles from other fresh vegetables.
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
This variation on a classic citrus tart puts the pomelo fruit taste on center stage, and the result is amazing.
If you like something a little extra from your desserts, this recipe from Butter and Brioche will become one that you make over and over again.
Adding rosewater to the curd brings out the floral notes in the pomelo, and emphasizes the flavors that pomelo has and lemon or orange lacks. It brings out the best in pomelo.
Cooking with pomelo can be difficult, just as it is with other citrus fruits. Pomelo doesn’t respond particularly well to freezing or heating, like other citrus fruits.
That’s why this recipe uses pomelo juice and rind to capture the flavor. If you don’t already have a juicer, you can do a rough job of it just by squeezing the juice into a glass and allowing some of the pulp to come out with it.
An even deeper level of flavor can be achieved by zesting the rind and adding that as well.
There are some great pomelo desserts out there, but this one is hard to beat. It brings out the best pomelo flavors and complements them with a delicious tart base and a sweet honey meringue on top.
Preparation Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
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This recipe for Vietnamese salad rolls filled with pomelo is both convenient and elevated, with a bursting mix of flavors that are equally welcome at a dinner party or in your lunch bag at work.
Pomelo is the perfect ingredient to serve with a savory salad or salad roll because, while it lacks the sourness and bitterness of grapefruit, it is not as sweet as an orange.
It has a complex fruit flavor that pairs well with greens, cucumber, and herbs.
This recipe uses a rice paper wrap to contain pomelo (in place of rice noodles), with cucumber, carrot, mint, and basil.
As a sauce, you can use a standard mix of hoisin and peanut butter (which is delicious) or make the sauce that is outlined in this recipe with chili, garlic, shallots, lime, and peanuts.
There are so many great things to say about this recipe: it is cheap, easy to prepare, very healthy, and delicious! If you want to experience the best pomelo flavors in a lunch that you can throw together quickly, this is the recipe for you.
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Pomelo Sweet Or Sour?
Pomelo is a sweet fruit in the grapefruit family, but ideally, it shouldn’t be too sweet or too sour but somewhere in between.
An orange is bursting with sweetness, and grapefruit is very sour, but a ripe pomelo has a more understated flavor that works equally well in desserts and savory dishes like salad.
Is Pomelo Sweeter Than A Grapefruit?
Yes, pomelo is sweeter than grapefruit and you can eat it without adding extra sugar.
Grapefruit is related to pomelo but is much more bitter and sour. Most people don’t enjoy eating a grapefruit without some additional sweetness. In contrast, you can bite right into a pomelo comfortably.
What Two Fruits Make A Pomelo?
The pomelo is a natural fruit species native to Southeast Asia and is not a hybrid. Although pomelos are not cultivated and grown agriculturally, they are not genetically crossed or modified like bananas and other crops are.
If you buy a pomelo, it is similar to the ancient pomelos that grew naturally in Southern China and Northern Vietnam.
However, grapefruit is a man-made hybrid and not a natural species.
Grapefruit was created by crossing a pomelo with a sweet orange. In this sense, pomelo is the original fruit and grapefruit is a cultivated hybrid with thinner skin and a more sour taste.
Can Diabetics Eat Pomelo?
A ripe pomelo has plenty of fruit sugar, like other fruits, but all things considered, pomelo is (in moderation) a part of a healthy diabetic diet.
Pomelos are lower in sugar content than some other fruits, and these sugars are complex and take longer for the body to digest. If you are diabetic, you can probably integrate pomelo into your meal planning.
However, remember that pomelo can interfere with some pharmaceutical medications. Like grapefruit, it contains compounds that can increase the blood level of some medications.
Even a small amount of pomelo can do this and the effect can last for days.
If you have other health issues that require medication, make sure to consult with your doctor before you start eating pomelo.
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