Winter Citrus: Discovering Pommelos


I'm late to a lot of food-trend parties because I live in the original Middle of Nowhere and nothing more exotic than an English cucumber ever comes through the produce section of my grocery store. Imagine my surprise when I encountered a bowling-ball sized citrus fruit couched among the lemons and grapefruit. But there it was, a giant moon-colored fruit piled near its brethren, bearing a strange name.
So I'm probably late to the pommelo party. There are about thirty-three ways to spell the name of this fruit which might have something to do with the fact that I just called it a “pommerang” and had to think several minutes as to what it was actually called (incidentally, I think the word I coined was a combination of “boomerang” and “Pomeranian,” neither of which are anywhere close to correct.)

//not my photo//


I snatched up the enormous thing and bought it. Because its produce sticker had got stuck to my sweater, the boy at the checkout had to ask me for the number of “this giant lemon thing.” Later, in the safety of twenty-minutes away, I googled what the heck a pommelo was supposed to be and what it tasted like and how to eat it. Because friends don't bring UFO's (unidentifiable food objects) into other friends' kitchens and expect them to be happy about it. Better come informed.
Thankfully, the friend whose kitchen was hosting my pommelo was completely fine with it. We sliced into the pommelo's yellow skin, with curiosity at first and then eagerness. The pale pink pith (think the white part of an orange) smelled faintly like gardenias while the dark pink flesh smelled like grapefruit. Pommelo is enormous – probably three times the size of your average grapefruit. Taste-wise, it falls between a sweet orange and a grapefruit...if I was hard-pressed for an exact answer I would say the flavor of a pommelo is like that of a Ruby Red grapefruit minus any of the bitterness, which puts it into a weird class of its own. It isn't sour at all, yet its flavor is quite distinctly citrus.



Google searches on this fruit turn up results like “quinoa and pommelo salad” and “pommelo marmalade.” A gardenia-scented, pale-pink marmalade? Heck yes. After turning the fruit inside out and upside down like particularly scientific-minded baboons, we devoured the fruit by “supreming” it with our fingers – the translucent skin of each section is quite thick and best peeled off, leaving behind thick, firm segments of the pommelo. I have never seen a fruit that is more of a “lady-fruit” than the pommelo; from its pale yellow outer skin to its fragrant, creamy pink pith and the rich, rose-colored fruit itself, the pommelo is an unexpected mid-winter feast for so many of the senses. I hope the grocery store still has them next time I go back – I want to make some marmalade or another batch of shrub. Take my advice: see a pommelo, buy a pommelo. They're really quite something.  And hey, pssst. You heard it from me. 

2 comments

  1. I've seen pomelo before, but never had the cunning to try one. XD I'm a grapefruit fiend, however, so this is right up my street! I'm going to try one ASAP.

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  2. A pomelo sounds wonderful, I love grapefruit and anything citrus. So I'm bound to like it, that is a beautiful picture by the way.

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