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The Pommelo


Holly Moore
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I picked up a couple of giant grapefruits at the market today.  When I got to the checkout, the checker informed me they weren't grapefruits, but he didn't know exactly what they are.  The UPC code said, "Israeli Pomm"  Also said they cost $2.99 each.

Turned out they were pommelos, a fruit I'd never heard of.  A Yahoo search told they go way back, and are bred with grapefruit to make to yield ruby red grapefruit.

I cut one open, hoping for an "Adventure in Eating"  No such luck.  While the diameter of fhe pommelo was 50% larger than a grapefruit, the inside rind was a half inch thick yielding, perhaps, the same amount of fruit as a grapefruit.  If only it tasted like a grapefruit.  If only it had taste. Absolutely no character of flavor.

Guess Sunkist feels there is a market - those who feel a need to eat grapefruit but can't handle the taste of a grapefruit.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Holly, you must have gotten some bad pommelos because they're actually quite good. I first had a pommelo the year I lived in Israel and have had them on subsequent visits (including fresh off the tree across the road from the Dead Sea). The flesh of the pommelos I've had has always been white. The texture is like a hard grapefruit. The appearance of the sections is the same as a grapefruit, though the slices are a bit thicker and longer. The exterior skin is so thick, there's no way to peel it without the assistance of a sharp knife. The interior skin between the sections is tough--I peel each section in order to fully enjoy the sweet fruit behind the bitter skin. On a hunch, I've never bothered to eat one here--now I know why. Same goes for persimmons. In Israel I eat them like candy, never bothered to have one in the U.S.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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I ate my first pomelo just over a year ago, and I ws struck by how lovely it was, especially to look at.

 

I bought it thinking it was just another pink grapefruit. I started peeling it but the skin was a lot thicker than I’d anticipated. I kept digging for the fruit and in the process saw these wonderful colors. The skin is bright green, then there is a thin layer of white, then you come to the pith that is a magical light pink. When I got to the fruit I found deep crimson, shining segments (they were blood orange-like). And they were juicy.  The various colors made me think about the beauty of food and about why green and pink borrowed from nature work so well together in interior design.

Realizing this was no ordinary grapefruit, I looked up Soloman’s Encyl of Asian Food, and found out that the pomelo is the biggest of the citrus fruits, and is native to SE Asia and can weigh up to 22 pounds.

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I had heard somewhere (I think from Ming Tsai on FN) that pommelo were the original grapefruit, the common grapefruit being a cross with oranges or some other citrus.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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And David Karp, Fruit Detective based in LA and writer with LA Times has written an extensive piece for the LA Times .. I am sure one could get a link on that.. And as in all his pieces, he covers everything  you everr wanted to know.

There is great flavor in a pommelo once you make the first effort to try that giant fruit.

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I had my first pommelo when traveling in Malaysia. In Malaysia there seemed to be a huge number of varieties. Some where yellow fleshed some pink/red fleshed. The flavour also varied a great deal. At the time I hated grapefruit (I was only fourteen), but the some of the pommelo's had enough sweetness for me. The individual citrus cells (?) in each segement can be seperated out and tossed through salads, kind I like pomegranate.

They sell them here in Scotland, of all places. but they are not that nice, not ripe enough.

Oooh. I just found out from the following site, that pommelos are a native of Malaysia, so no wonder there was some many differnt types!

http://www.geocities.com/familysecrets/pomelo.htm

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I think I've heard these individual cells referred to as "juice sacs." Apparently in Japan you can purchase orange juice that has individual juice sacs added back in for texture. I assume they have to be separated out by hand. A friend recently back from Japan tells me it makes for good, albeit expensive, drinking.

Holly, what you experienced is a fairly common phenomenon with fruit. It's hard enough to get a decent piece of fruit when you live within a mile of the orchards where that fruit is grown. You can go to areas in the Northeastern United States where some of the best apples in the world are grown and, at the peak of apple season, you can get crummy apples in the local markets. Getting a really good orange in any Northeastern supermarket at any time of year is a virtual impossibility -- it's difficult even at the high-end gourmet markets. It's even difficult in Florida and California. When you start dealing with tropical fruit, the problem is just amplified. You may see pommelos, mangosteens, and durians in US markets from time to time, but the chances of them being good are slim to none.

This is especially true since consumers here don't even know how these fruits are supposed to taste (even worse, many chefs don't know yet they use these fruits in their cooking). I mean, who in the continental United States really knows how to judge a kiwi or a pineapple? Most people I know who have been to Southeast Asia or Hawaii have come back and said, "Those pineapples I've been eating all my life, they suck!"

Holly, did the Israeli pommelo you bought actually say "Sunkist" on it? Or were you just referring to Sunkist as indicative of agribusiness in general? I ask because I was under the impression that Sunkist is a cooperative of American citrus growers. I'll have to learn more about that at some point.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Yes, the pommelo had a Sunkist label on it.  

From what I'm reading on this thread I figure either I indeed got a mediocre pommelo or Sunkist calls them "Israeli Pommelos" but is growning them in the U.S. and is Wonder Breading the pommelos to appeal to American tastes.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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A small point, the correct spelling appears to be pomelo. An alternative spelling is pummelo. Neither here nor there, I guess, as it goes under various names in Asia.

Anyway, Solomon's Encyclopedia http://www.amazon.com/exec....er-link

that I mentioned below (which I highly recommend, by the way. If it had nothing but the pork vindaloo--which is the best curried dish I can make at home--in it I'd still praise it highly), says that the pomelo is thought to be a cross between a grapefruit and a shaddock (about which I know nothing) and that there are 2 varieties, one pink (which can be deep red), and another white ("to be accurate..a pale greenish yellow"). She goes on to say that when it's good it is juicy and sweet. When bad, bitter and fibrous, and, in Asia, as A Balic describes, the fruit is very popular with salt and chillies in salads.

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Hmmm. The information I have in the link I posted, suggests that Pomelos are the ancestor of grapefruit and were named Shaddocks,after the seacaptain who bought back some seed of a pomelo back from SE-Asia. So a bit of contradiction. That's the problem with internet sources.

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Wasn't there a thread about Shaddock roe? Could this be the progenitor of pomelo/pomello/pummelo, the ancestor of that grapefruit sitting in your fruit bowl? :raz:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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  • 10 months later...

Did anyone notice a pomelo/pomello/pummelo anywhere in MA?

Are there any Asian fruit markets there?

The exact location is Springfield MA.

A little story regarding the Pomello: During a yearly trade fair in Germany which we attend, we bring already for a few years Pomello as a "little something to eat" while a meeting is taking place.

(without "customs -agriculture" problems, a thing we wouldn't dream of bringing to the USA. it is pealed completely so that clients have only to pick and eat)

it was most pleasantly accepted by associates from all over the world, who sometime joke that our products 'stink' but we bring great Pomello from Israel. so they are still coming.

But they want it at home as well.

Any clue?

"Eat every meal as if it's your first and last on earth" (Conrad Rosenblatt 1935)

http://foodha.blogli.co.il/

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Little Boaz,

They sell pomelos in the Northampton Stop & Shop and I presume in other S&S branches in western Massachusetts. Unfortunately they are inedible. In Israel I have gotten some bad ones as well, but at least there is a chance of finding a tasty specimen.

The inadequacy of American appelation controlee regulations and the lack of a shopping culture that expects it, means that Sunkist can get away with marketing an Isr pomelo. Do all Holland peppers come from the Netherlands? I have seen Galia melons in the States from California and Mexico. Without being certain, I have always assumed that the Galia melon originates in Israel. By the way Galia melons in the US -- whatever their origins -- are unreliable.

A recently announced USDA regulation, unfortunately subject to hostile lobbying by most of the large-scale corporate food industry, will in fact introduce country of origin labeling for all fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and poultry. These are to go into effect in two or three years time. For the moment the regulations are open for public comment. Already the large-scale supermarket chains are lobbying against the requirement since they never know where their products come from, don't care, and will find it too expensive to find out. Hamburger meat can come from anywhere.

I certainly encourage all interested to inform themselves about these regulations and act to further their full implementation.

Edited by VivreManger (log)
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Pomelo is now grown in a few places in the US. I've had some US grown pomelos that have been excellent -- found in the Melissa's section of a local grocery store. I also buy them at the local Asian market. Pomelos that are comparatively heavier for their size tend to be juicier and seem to have a thinner pith. I usually judge the sweetness by smell. Having said all that, I still end up with a dud every now and then. You may also see some labeled 'Melogold' or something like that. These are almost always good. I think they're a hybrid between a pomelo and a grapefruit: sweet, low acid of pomelo, thinner skin of grapefruit. As for history of the pomelo, it's much more likely that the "Old World" pomelo came before the "New world" grapefruit.

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One of the things I always loved about the pomelo is its "socialness." IOW -- it seems to be a fruit almost no one eats by themselves. I guess because they're so big (much bigger in Israel than the ones I've seen -- but never bought -- here) and such a pain in the neck to get ready to eat. But when you do finally hack away all the layers of rind, the fruit can be so sweetly tart (puckering emoticon needed) -- they're really good.

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It is somewhat alarming to hear that export fruit products are unstasfing; it has been my belief that the quality of exports from Israel is usually superior.

Pomelos do have a rather long shelf life span. Sometimes I keep a pomelo for several weeks. If you come across a pomelo with a sticker that says "Jaffa #4279 pomelo" grabs it quickly. It's marvelous the friut inside is greenish and not red.

I repeat myself from another thread but any e-Gullteer who gets over here in winter will get a hell of a pomelo and also some splendid melons (I think that by now we have them all year round.)

"Eat every meal as if it's your first and last on earth" (Conrad Rosenblatt 1935)

http://foodha.blogli.co.il/

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  • 2 weeks later...

Being Malaysian, I'm quite familiar with the pomelo (that's how we spell it) since it's a native fruit. What's more, my hometown (Ipoh) is famous for it and many visiting tourists buy a few to take home. Personally, I don't like the taste (and I don't like grapefruit either) but many Malaysians are fond of the pomelo.

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I think FG's comment re closeness to market may be more to the point of good/bad pomelo. What we get here in Singapore is usually tasty and I assume fresh -- a bit sweeter than a normal grapefruit, but with pleasant acidity to balance it. We sometimes see what are called "sweeties" from Israel, but these look much more like a green grapefruit, much smaller than a pomelo.

Thai and fusion restaurants here serve a salad of the juice sacs or smallish bits of pomelo, thin-sliced raw red onion, chilies, fish sauce, coriander, and prawns. Really good as part of a meal with a curry to balance the richness.

Not sure of pomelo sources -- Malaysia, I guess...

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