Citrus Favorites: Grapefruits and Pomelos

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A beloved member of the citrus family, the grapefruit was named for the way it clusters on a tree panch — like grapes. It originated in the Caribbean in the early 1800s, and is likely a cross between a pomelo and some other citrus fruit. The main differences between grapefruit and pomelo (also referred to as pummelo or pommelo) are growing locations, color and size.

The pomelo is native to Southeast Asia, is yellow-green in color and ranges from cantaloupe-sized to watermelon-sized, while the grapefruit is grown in semitropical areas of the United States (mainly Florida and Southern California), is a yellow-pink color and is about the size of a fist. In Asian cuisine, the pomelo is often used in sweet jams and jellies, and in dessert soups.


One cup of grapefruit provides about 74 calories, 1.5 grams of protein and 2.5 grams of fiber. That makes it a good source of dietary fiber, as well as an excellent source of immune-enhancing vitamins A and C. Pomelos have more potassium, but have much less vitamin A.

*Note: Grapefruit has been known to react with a number of common prescription drugs. If you are taking any medications, check with your doctor before consuming significant amounts of grapefruit.

Textures and Flavors:

These fruits can be served raw, of course. Halve the fruit, pre-slice the wedges within each mempane, and then scoop them out with a spoon. Or, just quarter the fruit against the grain and peel the rind back as you eat the flesh.

But the grapefruit and pomelo can do so much more! The fruits’ delightfully bittersweet and slightly sour flavors lend well to balancing out savory main courses and sweet beverages or desserts. The peel, like an orange’s, makes a wonderful garnish when candied with pown sugar or, for savory dishes, with ginger and olive oil. Use the fruit as part of a marinade with chicken or seafood to provide moisture and help tenderize the meat. When cooked, the acidity mellows out so it will not overwhelm the other flavors in a dish. You can also substitute it for lemon in lemonades, or use it as a tangy and sweet addition to salads or dressings.

Fun Combos:

Grapefruit + mixed greens (arugula, endive, celery, lettuces) + roasted walnuts + honey yogurt dressing

Grapefruit + lobster + shallots + Dijon mustard + Creole seasoning + tarragon

Grapefruit + cream + mint + honey

Grapefruit + shallots + beets + red wine vinegar

Grapefruit + salmon + shallots + ginger + cayenne pepper + honey

Grapefruit + avocado + Dijon mustard + olive oil


Roasted Salmon with Shallot Grapefruit Sauce

Roasted Beet and Grapefruit Salad

Grapefruit Mint Salad

Through his book and blog, Death of the Diet, Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS, empowers people to live the life they want by integrating healthy eating and physical activity habits into their daily routines. You can follow him on Twitter @JMachowskyRDFit.

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