Delicate, sweet, and slightly tart, the pomelo is a large citrus fruit with a versatile flavor profile. Here’s everything you want to know about the exotic pomelo.
Pomelo is thought to have originated in Southeast Asia, primarily in and around the Malay Archipelago, and was brought to other countries through trade. It reached American shores in the 17th century, believed to have been brought via an East Indian Company ship run by one Captain Shaddock, the basis of the fruit’s original English name, shaddock. The origin of the name pomelo, is uncertain, but likely came from the Dutch pompelmoes which was used to refer to grapefruit.
Although pomelos are not as widely consumed as other citrus fruits, they are actually one of the original citrus fruit varieties. Pomelos have been used to create many of the hybrid fruits we eat today, such as sweet oranges, tangelos, and grapefruit.
Pomelo has a sweet and refreshing citrus flavor with a slight floral undertone. Its taste is strongly reminiscent of grapefruit, but much milder and with less of the tartness and bitterness that grapefruit sometimes has.
The fruit primarily comes in two varieties, a sweeter variety with yellow inner flesh and a tarter one with reddish-pink inner flesh.
The outer skin of pomelos can be as thick as one inch, so it’s generally easier to cut through them with a knife. You can then cut the pomelo into segments or create slices crosswise, as you would a lemon, removing the peel from each slice.
Like similar citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, pomelo can be used in both sweet and savory applications. Its delicate flavor can add a refreshing and fragrant fruitiness to a dish without overpowering its other elements. Try substituting pomelo for grapefruit in our Duck Breast and Grapefruit Salad recipe or trade it in for the orange in our Salmon with Fennel Salad recipe.
One popular savory pomelo dish is yam som o, a flavorful Thai salad made with shrimp, chopped pomelo, and a variety of aromatics. For dessert, try pairing pomelo with other citrus fruits or with tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple. You can also eat the pomelo’s thick peel, whether candied or as a sweet conserve.