Pomelo: Gentle Giant of the Citrus Family

This oversize citrus is sweeter and more mellow than grapefruit and perfect for salads and jam. Here's how to deal with its intimidatingly thick skin and pith.

Published Jan. 3, 2023.

If you’ve ever been at the market and spotted what looks like a grapefruit on steroids— larger than a softball and sometimes even approaching the size of a volleyball—chances are it’s a pomelo.

Read on to learn more about this fruit and how to get past its exceedingly thick skin and down to its juicy flesh.

What Is a Pomelo?

Pomelos, or pummelos (Citrus maxima and Citrus grandis), are the behemoths of the citrus family: They can grow to up to a foot in diameter and weigh from 2 to 4 pounds. 

But when it comes to taste, these giants are gentle, boasting a flavor profile similar to grapefruit but without its sharp tartness and bitterness. 

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The fruit, which is also known as shaddock, is native to Southeast Asia and the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo. It is highly prized across many regions of Asia, where it is often added to salads.

Chinese cooks include it in the festive raw fish platter, yu sheng, that’s served during Chinese New Year and spoon it over sweet desserts for a boost of mellow acidity. In Sri Lanka, pomelos are often sprinkled with sugar and eaten on their own as a dessert. In the Philippines, the fruit is combined with pineapple juice to make a refreshing beverage. Pomelo rind is also frequently candied and the whole fruit may be made into jam. 

I love to pair them with assertive greens, such in as my Kale Salad with Jicama, Pomelo, and Candied Cashews.

How to Peel a Pomelo

Their size and dense pith layer can make pomelos intimidating, so here's our guide to peeling them. (Note that your fingers are better than a paring knife for peeling away the thick membranes in step 5. Since these membranes are relatively tough, we advise also removing them even if you’re simply eating the fruit out of hand.)
Cutting off the blossom end of a pomelo

1. Cut off blossom end of fruit, removing ½ inch of skin and pith.

cutting skin into quarters from pole to pole

2. Working from pole to pole, cut skin into quarters, cutting down to—but not into—fruit. 

Peeling back skin from each quarter

3. Peel back skin from each quarter.

4. Open pomelo and separate segments.

5. Gently peel away membrane from each segment and break segments into ½-inch pieces.

Try Pomelo in Our Kale Salad or Sub It for Grapefruit in These Other Fruity Recipes:

Kale Salad with Jicama, Pomelo, and Candied Cashews

Accompanied by pops of bright citrus, a zingy dressing, crisp raw vegetables, and candied nuts, kale can be downright festive.
Get the Recipe

Citrus Salad with Radicchio, Dates, and Smoked Almonds

For a winter salad that doesn’t taste like an austere version of dessert, befriend the bitter side of citrus.
Get the Recipe

Scallop Ceviche with Cucumber and Grapefruit

Bright citrus is great with fresh seafood—provided that the acid doesn't overwhelm its delicate flavor. We went fishing for more balance and found it in this regional version.
Get the Recipe

Grapefruit-Rosemary Spritzer

With its citrus and herbal flavors, this simple but sophisticated and not-too-sweet nonalcoholic cocktail is just as much at home on a wintry holiday table as it is at an outdoor summer get-together.
Get the Recipe


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