Say Hello To Big, Fresh Pomelo

Joan and Dale Allen

Joan and Dale Allen of Alena Farm. Daniel Lane photos

Joan and Dale Allen have been growing fruit on Kaua’i for 15 years. The couple maintains a 3-acre property that includes 40 fruit trees and 10,000 white pineapple plants.

What’s growing now: Apple bananas, avocado, grapefruit (Rio Red, Star Ruby), kumquat, mango (Rapoza, Haden), orange (Valencia), lemon (Lisbon, Meyer), lime (key, Tahitian), lychee, pomelo, rambutan, tangelo, tangerine, white pineapple.


Pomelos resemble grapefruit, but they are a separate species. Evidence indicates that pomelo grew in China as early as 100 B.C.E., and today are displayed as a sign of prosperity and good fortune during Chinese New Year.

The large, pear-shaped fruit has lemon-yellow skin and pale white or red flesh, and much of its bulk is the thick, loose skin. Approximately 15 varieties are cultivated, and flavors range from dry and tart to sweet and juicy. Pomelo have 16 to 18 segments, range in size from softball to basketball, and can weigh more than 20 pounds. Superior pomelos grow in warm tropical regions, particularly in sheltered areas near the sea. Pomelo is also spelled pommelo, or pummelo. The Chinese name is youzi, and the Japanese call it buntan or zabon.

pomelo flowers

In optimal conditions, the pomelo flowers four times

Season: It takes eight to 12 months from flower to fruit, and pomelo season is February to May.

What to look for: Select heavy, fragrant fruit with a smooth and shiny skin.

Storage: Store whole or segmented in the refrigerator. Whole, it will last about a week, depending on ripeness. Segments will last several days. Wrapped in paper and kept in well-aerated boxes, some types taste better after three months of storage.

Preparation: Pomelos are best peeled with all the pith and bitter white membrane removed. To remove the rind requires a knife, but the best way is to make four or five cuts lengthwise in the rind without cutting into the flesh, then pull away these sections and peel.

One common Asian family ritual involves pomelo. Following dinner, the family elder carefully opens the fruit at its crown and then pulls away the outer rind. With the pith acting as a casing, the juice sacs of the pulp are easily removed from the segments. The fruit is then passed along the table so that each person can take a segment or two without allowing the juice to escape or soil the hands.


Pomelos resemble grapefruit, but they are a different species

Health benefits: One hundred grams of pomelo contain 38 calories, 9 grams of carbohydrates and 0.76 grams of protein; with 61 micrograms of vitamin C a 25to 50-year-old female will reach her recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 60 milligrams. Pomelo also has 4 grams of calcium (RDA 1000), and 216 milligrams of vitamin K (RDA 65). Vitamin K plays a major role in blood clotting, giving it the nickname “Band-Aid vitamin.” The vitamin also plays a role in bone mineralization, and researchers discovered women with low intakes had more hip fractures than those who consumed 100 to 250 milligrams a day.

A study published in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics concludes that pomelo juice increases the bioavailability of cyclosporine, a medication used to treat psoriasis and prevent the rejection of grafts and transplants.

The Allens’ pomelos

The Allens’ pomelos are sweet and juicy. Daniel Lane photos

Alena Farm produce can be found at the farmers market in Waipa (Tuesdays at 2 p.m.) and Hanalei, (Saturday at 9:30 a.m.). For more information, call 828-6799.


Small squares of rich pomelo custard on a crisp shortbread crust make a delicious afternoon snack, and are perfect with a cup of tea. You may be dubious when making this crust because it spreads like frosting, but it’s crunchy, buttery and holds up well the next day.

*14 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 cup plus 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 7 large egg yolks
* 2 large eggs
* 2/3 cup pomelo juice
* 3 tablespoons heavy cream
* salt

Beat 10 tablespoons of butter with sugar in an electric mixer until light yellow and fluffy, add flour and mix until combined. Spread in a 9-by-9-inch pan and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown.

While crust cooks, whisk eggs, yolks and sugar in a medium-size pot. Add pomelo juice and a pinch of salt, and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture visibly thickens, about seven minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cream.

Golden Pomelo Bars

Golden Pomelo Bars

Raise oven temperature to 375 degrees and pour custard into crust. Bake for 15 minutes until edges are set and the center slightly jiggles. Cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until cold.

Cut into 16 squares, and enjoy!