If there’s a fruit that embraces the saying “Everything is bigger in Texas” then it’s the Pomelo (or Pummelo or Shaddock). The Pomelo is the direct ancestor of the grapefruit but it can be as big as 4 pounds, with some samples even reaching the size of basketballs. Due to its size and thick skin, it hasn’t become as popular as the grapefruit, but it still has its fanbase and is still being farmed to this day.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Sapindales
- Family: Rutaceae
- Genus: Citrus
- Species: C. maxima
- Binomial name: Citrus maxima
- Its scientific name, citrus maximus means “big citrus” in English.
- The pomelo is the largest citrus fruit.
- Flowers from the pomelo tree is used in the perfume industry to create citrus scent notes.
- The pomelo has long been used to treat conditions like cough, sore throat, fever, fatigue, insomnia, and multiple gastrointestinal disorders.
Pomelo Buying Guide
The first thing you should look for in a pomelo is its heft or weight. It should be very heavy for its size. More weight means that it has more juice in its pulp. One of the most disappointing things in the world is to open up a pomelo and find desiccated and dried up pulp inside. The next step to check would be to rub the skin of the pomelo and it should give off a nice citrus smell, this is a good indicator of ripeness.
When they said, beauty is only skin deep, they must have been referring to the pomelo. The exterior of the pomelo doesn’t have to be smooth for the flesh to be tasty. In fact, some of the sweetest and juiciest pomelos that we have tried came from fruits with wrinkled and deformed-looking surfaces.
Pomelo Production & Farming in Texas
There is no large-scale pomelo production in Texas as most of the state’s citrus production is centered around grapefruits and oranges. Pomelos can grow wherever grapefruits are grown and some smaller grapefruit farms have a few pomelos interplanted with their grapefruits to meet the local demand for the pomelo fruit.
Pomelos are the granddaddy of citrus fruits and with their size, they catch more pesticides on their surface more than their smaller grapefruit descendants. While the flesh of the pomelo is relatively safe to consume due to the thickness of its rind, it is worth taking note that the pesticides used on the plant have already contaminated the ground, air, and water in the farmstead.
If, and when possible, try to purchase organic pomelos if you find them. Not only are they better for you, but they’re better for the planet as well.
Pomelos thrive from USDA Hardiness Zones 9 through 11. Just like grapefruits, pomelos are very sensitive to cold and special care should be observed if you live in an area that’s known for harsh winters.
The pomelo tree requires full sun to thrive and can survive in any soil type as long as it is well-drained. Pomelos do very well in the Rio Grande Valley area, but can be safely grown outside as long as there is adequate cold protection. They do not fare very well in a container, which is one of the reasons why it hasn’t gained that much attention from home growers.
Pomelos are the hardiest of citrus fruits due to their really thick rinds. It requires absolutely no special packaging at all. In most countries around the world, pomelos are just packed 20-kilogram sacks. Special varieties that have smooth skin are packed in boxes, but aside from that, no other protective packaging is required.
The best way to prepare a pomelo for eating is to first cut off the top and the bottom caps first. Once you have a stable base, score the surface from top to bottom, just enough to cut the skin but not to hit damage the flesh. Do this about 8-10 times with about an inch distance between each cut. Once you’ve done this, you can start vertically peeling the skin off from the top. You should be left with something that looks like a peeled orange or mandarin.
Once you’ve taken off the skin, the pith will be easier to remove as they fit each segment like a glove. Once the pit is off, remove any visible seeds and enjoy your pomelo.
Tip: Some people like to sprinkle a little salt on the segments to add a contrasting taste to it.
Pomelos can be stored at room temperature for up to two weeks. Inside the fridge, they can last for about a month, but be careful as some refrigerators can dry up pomelos faster. You can also freeze pomelos by removing the segments from the rind and then freezing them in a single layer to avoid sticking before transferring to a freezer-safe container.
Tip: Freezing pomelos may affect the texture.
Pomelos are best enjoyed in their fresh fruit form. They are also best added fresh to fruit salads and green salads. Pomelos can also be juiced, but that would be a waste for their fiber content, it is better for them to be blended into smoothies so you’ll get the benefit of the dietary fiber.
The pomelo doesn’t fare too well in heated applications due to its mild and sweet taste and its pulpy makeup.
- While the glycemic index in one 100g serving of pomelo is low, it is almost impossible to only consume 100g as the weight of the pomelo is mostly water. It is higher in sugar content than the grapefruit and people with diabetes should only consume pomelos moderately.
- The fiber in pomelo is mostly insoluble fiber which helps bulk up stool and prevents constipation.
- Fruit fibers in the pomelo have been associated with long-term weight maintenance, improved gut health, improved bone density and a decreased risk of some diseases.
- Vitamins and minerals:
- The pomelo, just like most citrus fruits are an excellent source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps prevent cellular damage from free radicals, as well as helps promote cellular regeneration.
- A whole pomelo fruit contains over 400% of the RDI for vitamin C.
- Due to their high levels of antioxidants, pomelos have been shown to have anti-aging and heart-healthy benefits.
- Essential oils from the pomelo peel have been shown to slow down bacteria growth.
When Are Pomelos in Season in Texas?
To find out when Pomelos are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.