Is A Pomelo A Grapefruit?

Here's what you need to know about these giant citruses.

IMAGE Shutterstock
ILLUSTRATOR Louis Miguel A. Talao

The humble suha or internationally known as the pomelo, is commonly confused for a giant grapefruit. We get it: the grapefruit is not a native fruit so it's easy to understand how it can be mistaken for our suha, especially the pink grapefruit. However, did you know that grapefruit is said to be a cross hybrid of a pomelo and a sweet orange

This is where the confusion can lie since both are from the same citrus family. Just like a green lemon is not a lime and vice versa, the pomelo and grapefruit are similar in that both are citrus fruits under the same plant family as well. Still, these are not the same fruit that are just different sizes. The difference actually goes beyond size. 

The pomelo is much larger in size than the grapefruit.
Photo by Shutterstock
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1 The pomelo is the largest citrus in the world. The grapefruit is much smaller. 

Also spelled as pummelo and also known as a shaddock or Chinese grapefruit, the pomelo is a large citrus fruit and much larger than the grapefruit. The size of the suha is roughly the same size as a melon or canteloupe which can be as small as 6 inches (15 cm) to as big as 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. It can weigh a hefty 1 to 2 kilos (or 2 to 4 pounds) each. 

The grapefruit is a big citrus alright compared to other citrus fruits, but not to the pomelo. In comparison, if the pomelo is large, the grapefruit is medium in size and is more similar in size to an Asian pear. It's around 4 to 6 inches or 10 to 15 cm in diameter and can weigh less than one-fourth of the pomelo, between 200 to 300 grams each. 

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Apart from size, you might also notice that the pomelo commonly has a pointed end where the stem is located. This is mainly because the pomelo is so heavy, the shape of the fruit is affected by gravity. You'll see that the much smaller grapefruit doesn't have the same problem. 

2 The pomelo has a light green to yellow rind. The grapefruit has a yellow to orange rind. 

The pomelo is light-colored citrus with its rind ranging from light green to a bright yellow in color. The grapefruit is commonly yellow but does trespass into the orange and even reddish range. The grapefruit commonly hints at the color of its flesh with the color of its rind while the pomelo will only reveal the color of its insides only once the peeled. It's much harder to determine from sight alone. 

3 The pomelo is easier to peel than the grapefruit. 

When it comes to peeling the citrus fruits, the pomelo is easier to peel since the pith, or the white spongy layer between the zest and the segments, comes off easily. The grapefruit on the other hand has a pith that is much more attached to the zest and its segments, similar to the orange than to the pomelo. 

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Both the pomelo and the grapefruit can be pink.
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4 The pomelo tastes sweet-tart but the grapefruit tastes more tart than sweet. 

Once peeled and the segments of both citrus fruit are revealed, you may be surprised to find that both the pomelo and grapefruit can range from pale yellow to bright pink flesh depending on which variant you have. Not counting size, the similarities in the color of the flesh can be attributed to the pomelo being the mother fruit of the grapefruit. 

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However, the looks belie the taste of each fruit. The pink flesh of the pomelo is commonly sweeter with an undernote of slight bitterness. If you manage to get your hands on Davao pomelo, well known for its superior suha, you'll realize these are the sweetest and the most complex in flavor you'll taste. The paler the color of the flesh, whether yellow or pink, however, the more sour and bitter the taste will be. 

The grapefruit is the same with regards to the taste grading of its color and taste but overall, the grapefruit is more tart with more bitterness in taste than the pomelo despite its color.

You will be delighted to know that the more vibrant the pink of the flesh of either fruit, the sweeter these tend to taste. So, the next time you visit the market, you now know how to tell a pomelo from a grapefruit. No more confusion! 

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