Pomelos are large fruits, averaging 15 to 30 centimeters in diameter, and have a round, oval, or tear-drop shape. The rind, also known as the peel, ranges in color from green to yellow-green to bright yellow and bears many small, fragrant oil glands, creating a textured, finely pitted surface. Underneath the rind, there is a thick white pith with a spongy, cotton-like consistency that has a very bitter, unpalatable flavor and should be removed before consumption. The pith is easily peeled, revealing 11 to 18 segments of soft, tender flesh encased in membranes, which also carry a bitter flavor and should be discarded. Once peeled, the flesh is comprised of translucent sacs filled with juice and pulp, varying in pink, red, and yellow hues. Some varieties contain a few seeds, while other cultivars may contain significant amounts. Pomelos will vary in texture and flavor depending on the variety, ranging from sweet, honeyed, and floral with tangy notes to sweet-tart with some acidity. When selecting a ripe Pomelo, the fruit should feel heavy, have plump skin, and bear a light, floral, and sweet, lemon-like scent.
Pomelos are an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system, reduces inflammation, and protects the body against free radicals. The fruits are also a good source of copper to maintain a healthy nervous system, potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, and provide lower amounts of phosphorus, fiber, and calcium.
Pomelos have a sweet, tangy flavor well-suited to both fresh and cooked applications, including baking, roasting, and simmering. It is important to note that the pith and membranes should be separated and discarded from the flesh before consumption, as they are considered bitter and inedible. Pomelos can be cut at the ends, the skin scored, and the rind and pith can be peeled or sliced into small segments to reveal the flesh. Once peeled, the fruits can be used as a substitute for grapefruit, pineapples, and oranges in recipes, or they can be eaten straight, out-of-hand as a refreshing snack. In Southeast Asia, pomelos are frequently sprinkled with a mixture of salt and chile powder or sugar to provide contrasting flavors. Pomelos can also be chopped into salsas, segmented into salads, blended into smoothies, or pressed into juice for fruit punches, cocktails, and sparkling beverages. In addition to fresh preparations, pomelos can be simmered into jams, jellies, and compotes, used to flavor sauces for fish and other meats, or roasted in the oven topped with unsalted butter. The fruits are also incorporated into baked goods, including bars, cakes, and muffins. The fruit's peel can be boiled with sugar and candied, sometimes dipped in chocolate, or it can be cooked into preserves and marmalade. Pomelos pair well with aromatics such as shallots, ginger, and lemongrass; herbs such as mint, thyme, and tarragon; vanilla; honey, crème fraiche, yogurt; fruits such as tangerines, pineapples, oranges, kiwis, pomegranates, and persimmons; meats such as prosciutto, fish, duck, and poultry; and nuts such as almonds, pistachios, and peanuts. Whole, unopened Pomelos will keep for 1 to 2 weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
Pomelos are available year-round, with a peak season in the winter through early spring.