If you’ve noticed what appears to be giant, unripe oranges lurking among the citrus in your local produce section of late, then you’re in luck. That giant green orb is likely a Chinese grapefruit—otherwise known as a pomelo or shaddock—and it’s a true winter citrus delight, although its size and color may seem intimidating at first.
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When size is taken into consideration, the Chinese grapefruit definitely reigns supreme. Native to Southeast Asia, it’s the largest of its kind in the fruit world, sometimes measuring close to a foot in diameter and weighing up to five pounds. That means it has the potential to yield a lot of juice, making it perfect for adding to homemade smoothies. The fruit inside is also a little less bitter and a touch sweeter than other grapefruit varieties conventionally found at grocery stores, such as ruby reds. That makes it a perfect candidate for jellies, compotes, or fruit salads—or, for simply enjoying as-is, along with the rest of your usual breakfast.
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The pomelo’s color, more than its size, is the factor most likely to throw off home cooks who are unfamiliar with the ingredient. After I first received the fruit as part of an Imperfect Produce delivery, I left it out on the counter for a few days, assuming it was some sort of citrus fruit that needed some time to ripen. Shoppers who are more familiar with warm orange, yellow, and pink hues in citrus fruits may not initially realize that the pomelo’s color gradient is closer to that of limes. They’re best used when their color is light green to greenish-yellow, bordering on orange. The fruit inside will sometimes be light yellow green in color. Otherwise, it’s fairly indistinguishable from its smaller cousins.
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When picking out Chinese grapefruits at the store, look for pomelos with rinds that smell a bit grassy. Those will be ready for immediate use, or they can be kept out on the counter with your other citrus for a week. If you’re not planning to use it immediately, you can stick the pomelos in the fridge for up to two weeks. Be aware that, like other grapefruits, the flesh of this sweet giant is divided into segments, so you’ll need to be careful of the membrane between each slice. Pomelos usually start appearing on shelves in November and can be found in some locations through late spring, so definitely keep an eye out.
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