The pomelo, Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis, is the largest citrus fruit from the Rutaceae family. It is a natural (non-hybrid) citrus fruit, similar in appearance to a large grapefruit, native to South and Southeast Asia. The pomelo is one of the original citrus species from which the rest of cultivated citrus hybridized. The popular fruit is used in many Chinese festive celebrations throughout Southeast Asia.
After a Captain Shaddock of an East India Company ship introduced it to Barbados, the fruit was called "shaddock" in English. From there the name spread to Jamaica in 1696. It remains a common name for the fruit among English authors.
The word "pomelo" (also spelled pomello, pummelo, pommelo, pumelo) has become the more common name, although "pomelo" has historically been used for grapefruit. (The 1973 printing of the American Heritage Dictionary, for example, gives grapefruit as the only meaning of "pomelo.")
The etymology of the word "pomelo" is complex. In Tamil it is called "pampa limāsu", which means big citrus. The name was adopted by the Portuguese as "pomposos limões" and then by the Dutch as "pompelmoes". With some deviations, the name may be found in many European languages, such as German (pampelmuse), Latvian (pampelmūze), Ido (pompelmuso), whereas some other languages use "pomelo" (Turkish, Norwegian, Polish, Bulgarian).In Southeast Asia, it is commonly known as limau besar, limau betawi, or limau serdadu in Malay; jeruk bali in Bahasa Indonesia; ส้มโอ [som o:] in Thai; lukban in Tagalog; and bu’o’i in Vietnamese.
Another origin theory proposes that "pomelo" is an alteration of a compound of English names pomme ("apple") + melon.
The fruit is also known as jabong in Hawaii and jambola in varieties of English spoken in South Asia.
Description and uses
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Typically, the fruit is pale green to yellow when ripe, with sweet white (or, more rarely, pink or red) flesh, and a very thick albedo (rind pith). It is a large citrus fruit, 15–25 centimetres (5.9–9.8 in) in diameter, usually weighing 1–2 kilograms (2.2–4.4 lb). Leaf petioles are distinctly winged.
The fruit tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit (believed to be a hybrid of Citrus maxima and the orange), although the typical pomelo is much larger than the grapefruit, and also has a much thicker rind. The pomelo has none, or very little, of the common grapefruit's bitterness, but the enveloping membranous material around the segments is bitter, considered inedible, and thus is usually discarded.
Sometimes, the peel is used to make marmalade, may be candied, or dipped in chocolate. In Brazil, the thick skin is often used for making a sweet conserve, while the spongy pith of the rind is discarded. In Sri Lanka, it is often eaten as a dessert, either raw or sprinkled with sugar. Occasionally, some Asian fat-heavy dishes feature sliced pre-soaked pith to absorb the sauce and fat for eating.
In large parts of Southeast Asia, where Citrus maxima is native, it is a popular dessert, often eaten raw and sprinkled with, or dipped in, a salt mixture. It is eaten in salads and drinks as well.
The fruit is said to have been introduced to Japan by a Cantonese captain in the An'ei era (1772–1781). There are two varieties: a sweet kind with white flesh and a sour kind with pinkish flesh, the latter more likely to be used as an altar decoration than eaten. Pomelos often are eaten in Asia during the mid-autumn festival or mooncake festival.
It is one of the ingredients of "Forbidden Fruit", a liqueur dating back to the early twentieth century that also contains honey and brandy. This liqueur is most famously used in the Dorchester cocktail.
A study was conducted on different pummelo accessions from Bengal, India, and a wide variability was observed in the fruit physico-chemical characters. The result shows that the fruit skin colour shows variation from greenish-yellow to orange, most of the fruits are round shaped whereas some fruits are oval as well. The placental tissues shows colour variability from whitish to pink and even reddish as well. The taste of the juice are classified as sour in some occasions to sweet in many occasions and very sweet in few occasion. Accession-17 showed the maximum average weight of fruit (1223.67 g) whereas the minimum fruit weight was observed in accession-16 (556.33 g). The length and breadth of the fruit was found maximum in accession 17 (13.17 cm) and Accession-20 (12.17 cm) and minimum in accession 14 (10.2 cm) and 11 (8.4 cm) respectively. The peel-pulp ratio was maximum in accession 13 and minimum in accession 3. Juice content was found maximum in accession 4 and minimum in accession 3. TSS was observed in ACC-15 (13.6 Brix)and minimum in ACC-13 (10 brix). The total sugar was maximum in ACC-22 (4.33%)and minimum in ACC-3 (4.15%).
Pomelo leaves are used for aromatic baths. The essential oil can be extracted from the leaves, peel or seeds of some pomelo species. Oil from the seeds of an inferior pomelo species was used to light opium pipes in Indochina. Perfumes are extracted from the flowers using enfleurage. The moderately heavy and hard timber from pomelo trees can be used to make, among other things, tool handles.
Possible non-hybrid pomelos
The pomelo is one of the original citrus species from which the rest of cultivated citrus hybridized, (others being citron, mandarin, and to a lesser extent, papedas and kumquat). In particular, the common orange and the grapefruit are presumed to be naturally occurring hybrids between the pomelo and the mandarin, with the pomelo providing the larger size and greater firmness.
The pomelo is employed today in artificial breeding programs:
- The common sweet orange (Citrus × sinensis) is a pomelo × mandarin hybrid
- The bitter orange (Citrus × aurantium) is another pomelo × mandarin hybrid
- The tangelo is any hybrid between Citrus maxima and a tangerine, it generally has a thicker skin than a tangerine and is less sweet
- 'K–Early' ('Sunrise Tangelo')
- Grapefruit is a pomelo backcross: pomelo × sweet orange (see above) and the grapefruit is a parent to many hybrids:
- 'Minneola': Bowen grapefruit × Dancy tangerine
- 'Orlando' (formerly Take'): Bowen grapefruit × Dancy tangerine(pollen parent)
- 'Nova': Clementine × Orlando tangelo cross
- 'Seminole': Bowen grapefruit × Dancy tangerine
- 'Thornton': tangerine × grapefruit, unspecified
- 'Ugli': mandarine × grapefruit, probable (wild seedling)
- The Oroblanco and Melogold grapefruits are hybrids between Citrus maxima and the grapefruit
- Mandelos: pomelo × mandarine (Citrus maxima)
- Hyuganatsu is a pomelo hybrid
- Pomelo (Pummelo) Citrus maxima
- American Heritage Dictionary, 1973.
- "Shaddock". Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
- “pomelo, n.” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary [Draft revision; June 2008]
- Growing the granddaddy of grapefruit, SFGate.com, December 25, 2004
- "Grapefruit". Hort.purdue.edu. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
- "Pummelo". Hort.purdue.edu. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
- "阿久根市： 観光・特産品（ボンタン）". City.akune.kagoshima.jp. Archived from the original on 2011-11-19. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
- Bhowmick, Nilesh; Mani, Arghya; Paul, Prodyut Kumar; Prasanna, V.S.S.V. "PHYSIO-CHEMICAL PROPERTIES OF PUMMELO [CITRUS GRANDIS (L.) OSBECK] GROWN UNDER NORTHERN PARTS OF WEST BENGAL". Journal of Plant Development Sciences. 9 (9): 887.
- Grapefruit–medication interactions: Forbidden fruit or avoidable consequences? CMAJ March 5, 2013 vol. 185 no. 4 First published November 26, 2012, doi: 10.1503/cmaj.120951 David G. Bailey, George Dresser, J. Malcolm O. Arnold, 
- Morton, J. 1987. Tangelo. p. 158–160. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/tangelo.html
- Pomelo Nutrition Information from USDA SR 22 database