Produce of the Month: Pomelo
What is a pomelo?
The pomelo, or pummelo, is a citrus fruit native to South and Southeast Asia. Its scientific name is citrus grandis, a reference to its size—it is the largest citrus fruit in the Rutaceae family! It is one of the original citrus species and has been hybridized to create many of our favorite citrus fruits (like the mandarin orange and the kumquat). Pomelos are similar to grapefruit, but typically much larger and with a thicker rind. Some pomelos are even as big as a basketball! When ripe, the fruit is a pale green to yellow color on the outside and the inside is typically white, but sometimes pink or red (which means its more sour!). Pomelos are eaten on Chinese New Year because they are said to bring continuous prosperity, and the more pomelos eaten means more wealth in the new year!
Giant pomelos for sale in Hanoi, Vietnam
Where and how they grow!
Pomelos are exported in large quantities from the Philippines and Australia, but are also grown in the United States from November through June. Pomelos are mainly grown in Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas, as pomelos grow best in a dry, semi-tropical climate. A pomelo tree can reach 50 feet high! There are pomelo trees growing right here in L.A., and Food Forward even harvests pomelos through our Backyard Harvest program. If you’re interested in pomelos, you can sign up to come pick them with us!
There are also many health benefits attributed to the pomelo. They contain Vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B6. The pomelo is attributed to boosting the immune system, aiding with digestion, regulating blood pressure, preventing cramping, improving bone health, promoting wound healing, and even holding anti-aging properties!
Try a pomelo recipe!
The peel of a pomelo can be used to make a delicious marmalade among other sweet treats. Below is a candied pomelo peel recipe from Elizabeth Schneider’s “Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables: A Commonsense Guide” (William Morrow, 1998):
Deeply score a small to medium cleaned pomelo (2 pounds) in eighths. Remove peel and trim ends. Cut peel lengthwise into 1/4- inch strips. These should measure 4 cups total. Place peel in a large pot of boiling water and boil 1 minute. Drain and repeat two more times, the last batch for 8 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, 1 1/4 cups dark corn syrup, 1 1/4 cups water and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Bring to a soft boil. Add the drained peel and simmer for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. When most of the liquid is gone, carefully remove the peel and place on a sheet pan that has been covered in sugar. Sprinkle more sugar on top and gently toss to coat. If desired, use organic cane sugar, which has larger crystals. Place peel on a baker’s rack and allow to dry for a day or two. Store in an airtight container.