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The pomelo (Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis, alternative spellings include pummelo and pommelo, also known as shaddock) is a crisp citrus fruit native to South and Southeast Asia. It is usually pale green to yellow when ripe, with sweet white (or, more rarely, pink or red) flesh and very thick albedo (rind pith). It is the largest citrus fruit, 15–25 centimetres (5.9–9.8 in) in diameter, and usually weighing 1–2 kilograms (2.2–4.4 lb).
Etymology, cultivation and uses
The pomelo is native to Southeast Asia and is known there under a wide variety of names. In large parts of South East Asia, it is a popular dessert, often eaten raw sprinkled with or dipped in salt mixture. It is also eaten in salads or together with yogurt, and sometimes pickled.
The pomelo tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit (which is itself believed to be a hybrid of the pomelo and the orange), though the typical pomelo is much larger in size than the grapefruit. It has very little, or none, of the common grapefruit’s bitterness, but the enveloping membranous material around the segments is bitter, considered inedible, and thus usually is discarded. The peel is sometimes used to make marmalade, can be candied and sometimes dipped in chocolate or, in China, is used in stir-fry with pork. Pomelos are usually grafted onto other citrus rootstocks, but can be grown from seed, provided the seeds are not allowed to dry out before planting. The seedlings take about eight years to start blooming and yielding fruit.
The etymology of the word “pomelo” is uncertain. It is thought to perhaps be an alteration of pampelmoes (“shaddock”) or alternatively, perhaps an alteration of a compound of pome (“apple”) + melon.
The town of Tambun in Perak, Malaysia is particularly famous for pomelos. The two varieties are a sweet kind, which has white flesh, and a sour kind, which has pinkish flesh and is more likely to be used as an altar decoration than actually eaten. Pomelos are often eaten during the mid-autumn festival or mooncake festival; in Asia. They are normally eaten fresh.
The fruit is said to have been introduced to Japan by a Cantonese captain in the An’ei era (1772–1781). The Chinese use pomelo leaves in a ritual bath, which they believe helps to cleanse a person and repel evil.
It is one of the ingredients of Forbidden Fruit, a liqueur dating back to the early 20th century that also contains honey and brandy. This liqueur is most famously used in the Dorchester cocktail.
The tangelo is a hybrid between the pomelo and the tangerine. It has a thicker skin than a tangerine and is less sweet. The Oroblanco is a hybrid between the pomelo and the grapefruit, the grapefruit itself being a hybrid between pomelo and the sweet orange. Mandelos are another pomelo hybrid.