You’re probably familiar with tons of citrus fruits – from oranges to limes, lemons to grapefruits.

But have you heard of one of the original citrus species? 

The pomelo is considered the originator of most citrus species we know today. That’s not the only reason why it’s celebrated, though!

Colorful and Sweet 

Native to Southeast Asia, pomelo varies in color from pale green to yellow when at its most ripe. Typically, the inside will be white, though there is another variety of the fruit that has pink or red flesh. These two varieties vary in sweetness, with the white flesh being the sweeter of the two. 

The red- and pink-flesh pomelos are usually on the sour side and aren’t eaten as often. However, this version of the fruit is one that you might see as altar decorations during festivals or as offerings. 

These fruits can weigh in at 2.2-4.4 pounds and are usually 5.9-9.8 inches in diameter. 

Gaining Popularity and Prominence

Another name for the pomelo that you might come across is “Shaddock.” It’s believed that the name came from the captain of an East India Company ship who introduced the fruit to Barbados and Jamaica in the late 1600s. 

The fruit was brought to Japan in the late 1700s, and continued to make its way around the world as shipping and trading to and from South Asia gained more prominence. 

A Variety of Dishes and Customs

The sweet insides of the pomelo are sometimes used for drinks or eaten with salads, while the peel is often candied or used to make marmalade. 

Additionally, the pomelo has become a popular fruit in festivals and celebrations throughout Southeast Asia, including the mid-autumn or mooncake festivals. 

One of the most popular desserts in which the pomelo is used comes from Sri Lanka, where it’s eaten raw or sprinkled with sugar after a meal. 

Mango Pomelo Dessert

Being eaten raw or with sugar isn’t the only way to enjoy a pomelo dessert. 

In fact, the mango sago dessert is a classic recipe that includes mango, coconut milk, and pomelo pulp for a super sweet after-dinner treat! 

Cultural Significance of the Pomelo 

The pomelo is a symbol of prayer and hope for good fate and is used often in temples during the Chinese New Year. 

Another cultural reference of the pomelo is in symbols of family unity, particularly through pairs or bunches of pomelo displayed on altars or during traditional festivals. 

A Flowery Scent 

The pomelo is also often used for things like aromatic baths. Essential oils can be extracted from the seeds, leaves, and even the peel of the pomelo. Some pomelo flowers are even used to make sweet-smelling perfumes! 

Sweet, Significant, and Citrusy 

The pomelo isn’t just a yummy fruit eaten around the world. It carries quite a lot of symbolism and traditional weight for many communities across the world and has had a variety of uses throughout the years. 

If you have the chance to get your hands on a pomelo – or even to try the mango sago dessert – you should definitely give this citrus fruit a try!

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