In India, pummelos are also known as chakotras. However, this name also denotes grapefruit, which is technically a different species (Citrus paridisi) albeit a closely related one. Pomelos even feature in the country’s cultural celebrations: In the Garo Hills of India, locals perform a “pomelo dance,” which entails spinning a cord-tied pomelo around the waist. As the dancer grows in experience, he becomes capable of spinning up to four fruits.
Origin of Pummelo
The book, “Citrus: The Genus Citrus” explains that pummelo’s origin is most likely Malaysia and the Malaysian archipelagos. Many of the citrus varieties can thank pomelo for their inception: grapefruit, sour oranges and common oranges are just a few of pommelo’s offspring.
According to the “Thai-English Dictionary,” pomelos came to India from Java. More specifically, that it arrived to India by way of Balavia, Indonesia, which is one reason for its other nickname, Batabi-Lebu. Very likely, India’s own Citrus medica (or, citrons) hybridized with the fruit to propagate other varieties. In fact, a type of sour pummelo is native to India’s Assam region (Citrus grandis var. megaloxycarpa). In Indian folklore, it’s ranked as the sourest of all citrus fruits—allegedly, its acid is capable of dissolving within minutes of insertion into its mouth-puckeringly sour rind.
Pomelos came to Europe in the 1700s. It was only until the Spaniards brought the fruit to Florida that it hit the US. However, as explained by author Henry Arthur Dygert in his 1903 book, “prices so high banish the pomelo from the daily tables of all but the rich; and that, for the same reason, this fruit is rarely seen on sale at any but the fanciest fruit and grocery store.”
Availability of Pomelo in India
India hasn’t taken much interest in this fruit commercially, though several regions, like Manipur, use pommelos for religious purposes. Pomelos grow in the far northeastern eastern regions of India (such as Manipur in West Bengal), and some southern regions such as Bangalore and Kerala. Assam and Tripura also cultivate the fruit up to 1,500 meters.
Where to find Chakkota in India
Pomelos are like unexpected guests that appear, say a quick hello, and then run off. These fruits grow from November through December, during which they come and go from the markets. Because these fruits do not grow on a large-scale commercially, those who live more than 30 miles from the nearest pummelo grove are out of luck.
On occasion, pomelos are imported from overseas and thus appear in specialty grocery stores. Their appearance shouldn’t be credited to local demand, but rather the growing number of Asian expats living in India.
Checking for Ripeness in Pomelo
Many delicious pummelos have green skin while others have a burnt yellow appearance. The range of the fruit’s colorful exteriors means that the skin color should not be used as a baseline. Pick pummelos that feel heavy for their size, are firm, smooth and shiny. Avoid fruit with marks, coarse or wrinkly skin, and soft spots. The thinner rind fruits often contain the most flesh, especially those practically emitting citrus oil while in the hand. A good chakotra is also aromatic near the stem.
Taste of Pomelo
Pomelos have the taste of grapefruit without the bitterness and acidity, coupled with gorgeous floral overtones and a clean taste. The texture is fleshy and has more membrane than many other types of citrus; a bad pummelo is marked by dry, desiccated flesh with little juice. Of the three types of pomelos—pink, red and white—pinks and reds taste the sweetest, while white pummelos have a mildly acidic taste. To get the best tasting experience, ensure the pith is fully removed from every segment, as the pith adds a very bitter taste otherwise.
Nutritional Value of Pomelo
According to the USDA nutrient database, 100g of pummelo contains the following nutritive values:
1g Fiber (4% RDI)
61mg Vitamin C (102% RDI)
Thiamin (2% RDI)
Riboflavin (2% RDI)
Vitamin B6 (2% RDI)
17mg Phosphorous (2% RDI)
216mg Potassium (6% RDI)
Copper (2% RDI)
Health Benefits of Pomelo
The book, “Indian Medicinal Plants,” states that pummelos are used as a cardiotonic. The leaves, rind and flowers have potent sedative effects. The leaves treat chorea, epilepsy, haemorrhagic diseases and cough. Pummelo leaf oil is effective for their fungistatic activities, and bark has antimicrobial properties.
--According to a study published in Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, pummelo’s peel showed strong abilities to reduce hypertension and may help individuals manage type-2 diabetes.
--As per a study published in ISRN Pharmacology, methanol extracts of pummel leaves exhibited antitumor activities by reducing tumor sizes in carcinoma cell-treated mice.
--As found in a study published by Food and Chemical Toxicology, pomelo’s essential oils have potent antioxidant, antifungal and anti-aflatoxigenic activities.
--A study published in Journal of Medical Food states that pomelo juice may be a good dietary tool for managing Alzheimer’s disease based on the antioxidant and phenolic compounds in the fruit.
--According to a study published in “Food Chemistry,” pummelo fruit extracts may boost metabolism, as was found when rats were given a high-fat/high cholesterol diet.
--Pomelos and grapefruits contain spermadine, which, as the name suggests, is also found in human sperm. This compound combats aging and promotes cellular health by fighting oxidation.
How to Open/Cut:
Pomelo’s mantra is “peel, peel, peel.” The large fruit requires peeling through several layers to get to the juicy pink or pale yellow flesh. First, peel the thick, oily skin. Next, remove the cottony white pith and leave only the ball of fruit. While other citrus types only require peeling, pomelos have one last additional step: peel away the papery outer membrane encasing the flesh. Only the tear drop-like sacs of juice should remain.
Pomelos offer a pungent, zesty scent when peeled, so enjoy the fruit’s lingering fragrance that will aromatize the kitchen.
Pummelos are hardy fruits, lasting for two weeks at room temperature, and three to eight when placed inside of the fridge. Pummelos can be frozen as well: peel and de-pith the fruit, then place chunks of the fresh pomelo in a thick plastic bag and freeze. Expect the fruits to last for only a month—freezer burn sets in after 30 days. Some choose to place pomelo chunks in a syrup pack, made by boiling water and sugar. This syrupy concoction acts as a preservative and flavor enhancer, and will preserve the life of the fruit for up to a year.
Pomelo Recipe Ideas and Uses:
--Add chopped pummelo to Asian stir-fries, folding the fruit into the dish near the end of the cooking. Also add to Asian salads, especially those that include peanut sauce.
--Make a citrusy sweet cocktail by blending pomelo chunks with ice and adding vodka. Or, strain the juice and add to a gin martini.
--Make a Thai pomelo salad by combining the fruit with red peppers, basil, cucumber, tofu, shallots, mint, and peanuts. Combine with a dressing made from peanut butter, coconut oil, soy sauce, and vinegar.
--Include pomelo chunks into European salads with beet, squash, avocado, walnut, vegan cheese, and a dark green like spinach or arugula.
--Make candied pomelo rind by peeling the skin and removing the bitter pith. Simmer the peel in sugar water for an hour and a half until the rinds are transluscent. Powder with sugar if desired, or leave to cool for two hours on a baker’s rack.
--Add fresh pomelo to cous cous dishes, adding complementary ingredients like mint, ginger, and shallots.
--Make pomelo lemonade by substituting this with lemon, and adding sugar as needed.
--Freeze the juice, and ice, and blend with sugar into a citrus sorbet. Garnish with mint.
--Juice pomelo with foods such as orange, carrot, ginger, and beetroot.
*In Vietnam, the essential oils are used to make exfoliating scrubs and soaps.
|Pomelo salad from|
Any citrus, avocado, pomegranate, coconut, lemon, lime, banana, pineapple, mango, strawberry, peach, apricot, pomegranate, date, fig, grape, guava, cherry, coconut, amla, persimmon, kiwi, kumquat, nungu, papaya, passion fruit, soursop, raspberry
Herbs, spices, and oil: mint, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, honey, club soda, rum, vodka, gin, champagne, white wine, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, onion, fennel, walnut, almond
Pomelos may weigh up to a staggering 25 lbs.
Pummelo’s unusual name is believed to originate from the French word, “pamplemousse,” or, “grapefruit.” And yet, it’s the pummelo that far predates the grapefruit.