Pummelos are the largest fruit in the citrus family and are very popular in Asia. Pummelos can weigh up to a few pounds with shapes ranging from tear drop to round. All pummelos have a thick but easy to peel rind but the flesh can be white or pink, sweet or sour and can have a little or a lot of seeds depending on the variety. Pummelos are best recognized by their refreshing, clean citrus fragrance. Turn the pummelo over and smell the blossom end for a strong burst of a citrus scent unlike any other.
In California the Chandler is the most commonly grown variety both commercially and with the home gardener. In 1961 UC Riverside developed the Chandler by crossing the slightly acidic Siamese Pink Pummelo with the Siamese Sweet Pummelo. The Chandler can be as big as a volleyball with a thick rind that needs to be carefully peeled away to reveal the sweet, crisp pink flesh inside. The sweet flavor is well worth the effort it takes to get to the fruit.
Pummelos are so popular for Chinese New Year that a small part of the crop grown in Southern California is specifically for the Asian community in San Francisco and other parts of California. Chinese New Year falls on January 31st this year.
THE PUMMELO CAN BE CUT OPEN AND SEGMENTED IN 4 EASY STEPS
First cut off the top of the pummelo. I recommend making a cut at least half inch deep because the rind is so thick.
Secondly make 4 scores with a knife around the sides of the pummelo so you can easily peel back the rind. Wedge your fingers between the pith and the fruit and gently peel back each segment.
Now the fruit should be easy to remove from the rind. Using your fingers again gently pull the fruit apart like an orange until you have two halves.
Lastly using your hand or a knife peel away the pith surrounding the fruit and separate the segments of fruit.
The Chandler pummelo is picked when the skin is greenish yellow but they have the best flavor when the rind has developed more of a yellow color. Pummelos are related to the grapefruit but they are not as juicy and the segments are best eaten out of hand, in a salad or try adding it to a smoothie. The rinds can be used to make candied pummelo and are sometimes used in Asian cooking.
Normally you will find pummelos in season from early winter to spring all depending on supply and demand and what regions they are coming from. When choosing a pummelo, or any citrus, you want to pick one that is heavy for its size and free of bruising. It should also smell great! I recommend buying a few extra pummelos to put in different areas of your house. The fresh citrus smell acts as a natural air freshener. You can also cut up the rind after peeling it and place it in a bowl in the bathroom. The citrus scent will go on long after the fruit has dried out. Don’t store pummelos out on the counter unless you plan to eat it that day. Pummelos can be stored in the refrigerator for a little over a week. Click here for some delicious and healthy smoothie recipes.