The species name ‘grandis‘ refers to the large fruits that are produced by the trees. The history of the word “pomelo” is uncertain. It is thought to perhaps be an alteration of the Dutch pompelmoes (meaning Citrus maxima) or alternatively, perhaps an alteration of a compound of pome (“apple”) + melon.
The fruit tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit, though the typical pomelo is much larger than the grapefruit. It 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. The peel is sometimes used to make marmalade, can be candied, and is sometimes dipped in chocolate. In Brazil, the thick skin is often used for making a sweet conserve, while the middle is discarded. Citrus maxima is usually grafted onto other citrus rootstocks but can be grown from seed, provided the seeds are not allowed to dry out before planting.
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 actually eaten. Pomelos are often 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 20th century that also contains honey and brandy. This liqueur is most famously used in the Dorchester cocktail.
The trees bloom from late February through mid-April, while the fruit ripens during the following December – March period. The flowers are intensely and delightfully fragrant, which is typical of the flowers of Citrus plants in general.
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