Grapefruit and pomelo

General Description: Grapefruit (Citrus paradise) is one of the largest of the citrus fruits, with thick tough skin and somewhat bitter flesh. The grapefruit family has only been cultivated for about 200 years and is descended from the even larger pomelo. Its habit of growing in clusters may be the origin of the name “grapefruit.”

Grapefruits are produced in two different climatic zones. One is a low-humidity desert area and the other is a tropical area. Desert-grown grapefruit are characterized by a blemish-free exterior, a very thick peel, and an acidic flavor. Tropical-grown grapefruit are characterized by a slightly blemished exterior, thin peel, and sweet taste.

The two main varieties of grapefruit are Duncan and Marsh. In 1913 a pink Marsh appeared, the Marsh Ruby, which is the ancestor of all pink grapefruits grown today. Star Ruby grapefruit is a variety with a deep rosy flesh and tangy, sweet flavor. The New Zealand grapefruit is more orange in color and slightly less acidic. It can tolerate a cooler climate and ripens much earlier.

(Citrus grandis), the ancestor of the grapefruit, still thrives in Malaysia and Indonesia. Pomelos have been cultivated in China for thousands of years and are now being cultivated and imported from Israel. Much of their bulk is taken up by very thick skin, which is loose, fibrous, and easily removed. Some unpeeled pomelos are as big as basketballs. Pomelo is firmer and less juicy than grapefruit.

A cross between a pomelo and a grapefruit, the Oro Blanco is slightly larger than a grapefruit, with a thick rind. Its skin is green to yellow, its flesh is mostly seedless, with thicker skin around each segment, and it has a juicy, sweet grapefruit flavor without bitterness or acidity.

The tangerine-grapefruit hybrid called uniq (trademarked under the name Ugli) fruit can be very large, but much of it consists of a thick, baggy rind with a pulled-up appearance at the top. It is a kind of tangelo, but is most similar to a grapefruit. It is easily peeled and the segments separate freely. It has a faintly bitter flavor touched with honey and apricot.

Season: Duncan, Star Ruby, Marsh Ruby, and the white Marsh seedless grapefruit are in season year-round. Pomelos are in season from mid-January to mid-February. Oro Blanco are in season from December to mid-April. Uniq are in season from December through April.

Purchase: Choose fruits that are heavy for their size; the heavier it is, the juicier it will be. Grapefruits should be firm yet resilient and have shiny skin. The more blush of pink or red on the skin of a pink or red grapefruit, the deeper the color of the flesh. In the spring, extra chlorophyll produced for the new bloom creates a tinge of green on ripened fruit that hasn’t been picked. This natural process is called “regreening” and does not affect quality.

Avoid: Grapefruits that don’t give when pressed are usually dry and without much juice. Rough skin indicates dry fruit.

Storage: Store grapefruits for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.


  1. Peel the skin of the fruit as you would an orange and separate the segments.
  2. Remove all of the bitter pith before eating.

Serving Suggestions: Dice grapefruit flesh, mix with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and use to dress chicken or seafood. Mix fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice with a few drops of fruit vinegar and grapeseed oil to make a salad dressing. Use pomelo juice and/or sections when making fish or seafood seviche.

Flavor Affinities: Avocado, champagne, coconut, fish, ginger, honey, salad greens, seafood, tarragon, walnuts, watercress.

from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com